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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

38j>

Keb. Jlpron ^fcama.

THE CONTINUOUS CREATION. An Application of the Evolutionary Philosophy
to

the

Christian Religion.

Crown

8vo,

#1.50.

THE CREATION OF THE
8vo.

BIBLE. Crown

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN &
Boston and

CO.

New

York.

CREATION OF THE
BIBLE

BY

MYRON ADAMS
AUTHOR OF "THE CONTINUOUS CREATION"

W}?HT^W^M
pi

E m ^^^^gg

BOSTON AND NEW YORK HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
(fity Iftitarsi&e

®xes& Cambridge

^
"-.K--

Copyright, 1892,

By

MYRON ADAMS.

All rights reserved.

Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton

The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U.S.A. & Company.

*

f
V
rt

V
That
forms of organic

PREFACE.

creation which speaks for itself in the lowest
life in

due time manifests the wisdom
department of morals and
falls into line as

of the Creator in the high
spiritual development.
last of

Religion

the

a series of creations.

If the time has already

when thinkers abandon the long-accepted dogma of creation by fiat, adopting in place of it the philosophy of creation by development, it will not
arrived

be long before

it

will

be seen that religion

is

also

developed, and that revelation grows.
gins in the narrow, the confused,
it

The

latter be-

and the primitive

advances in proportion to the moral, intellectual,
spiritual

and

advancement of men.

" Like every other product of man's spiritual activity," says

Professor

Abraham Kuenen,
is

" the Israelit-

ish religion has its defects, its one-sidedness, the faults

of its virtues."
Israel's religion,

Nothing

so important

to

us

as

and that other and better
is still

religion

which has grown, and
Christian outgrowth,
its historical

growing out of

it.

That
in the

the revelation contained in Israel's religion,

and

may

be studied in the light of

development, a number of books have

iv

PREFACE.
;

recently been written
tribution to the

the present volume

is

a con-

same purpose.
attention,

To read Kuenen and Wellhausen with
and appreciation
ship,
is

of their devout

and excellent

scholar-

to
;

acknowledge the truth of some of their con-

clusions

and no careful investigator can now under-

take the study of the construction of the Old Testament

without consulting these eminent authors.

More than

that

:

if

the philosophy of evolution be

accepted by any one, as the only reasonable explanation of the Cosmos,

no theory concerning the Bible

which

is

invalidated by that philosophy can be main-

tained by him.

To

those

who

are satisfied with the old views, an

attempt to find better ones must seem audacious and
perilous
;

but there are

many who

are unable to con-

tent themselves with the notion of the infallibility of

the writers of the Bible

;

to such this

book

is

addressed

by one who has pursued the study
of his

for the satisfaction

own mind.
does not profess to be a
critic,

He
He

but one who has

resorted to the critics and historical criticism for help.

has been aided, so far as the present volume

is

concerned, by such authors as Professors Wellhausen,

Kuenen, Sanday, and Toy, Canon Driver, President
Cone, Dr. Gladden, and others, both progressive and
conservative.

CONTENTS.

PAGE
I.

II.

The New Method of Study Divers Portions and Manners
.

1

10

III.

IV.

Ezra the Scribe History-Making

21
.

The Limitation The Fiction XL The Poetry XII. Greek Influence XIII. Other Influences XIV. The New Age XV. The First Christian Writings XVI. The Spiritual Basis XVII. The Miracles

V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X.

Traditional Sources

Legendary Elements Prophecy From Gods to God

.

32 44 56
81
.

....
.
.

.

93 106 119 132
145

.

157
.

XVIII.

Infallibility

.... ....
. .

.

170 183 196 209 235

XIX.

XX.
XXI. XXII.
XXIII.

Paul and the Second Advent The Apocalypse of John

.
'

.222
.

The Certainties The Fourth the Gospel of the Present Tense
Authorship of the Fourth Gospel
Conflict and Harmony The Sociological Religion of James
.

248
261

XXIV.

.

XXV.

274 287 300

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

THE NEW METHOD OF STUDY.
Bible study has come
recently
is
it

to

be of two

sorts.
its

has been understood that

Until one object

to discover

what the Bible contains.

Numerous

questions ask themselves continually in the world of

human
offer?

experience.

What

answer does the Bible

In order to attain satisfactory information concerning the answer of the Bible to our questions, and to know very exactly the precise meaning of the answer, a most thorough investigation of the language of the Bible and of its grammar has been undertaken. Accordingly, the literature of comment, exposition,

and textual
is

criticism is exceedingly

abun-

dant.

The painstaking care expended upon
of a sort to cause astonishment.

criticism

of the text

Every

field of collateral

usage has been ransacked to find material bearing on the subject. The microscope has not been employed more abundantly by experts of
science in physical research than the microscopic vision has

been in Scriptural investigation.

It lieth not

within the wit of

man

to tell the greatness

and the

minuteness of the work done.

But

in respect to that

2

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

department of Bible study it would not be rash to declare that it has already been carried very nearly if not quite to its limit. It does not appear probable that much more light will be shed upon the text of
the Bible.

Having gone thus
here to

far in that direction, Bible study

has recently taken another.

Let us be careful just
I speak of

make a

necessary discrimination.

new department or direction. Attacks have been made upon the Scriptures from the time of their appearance among men. Christianity at the beginning
a

was the subject of a great literary atremnants of which remain. Of course the books of the Christian literature formed to some extent the basis of that attack. That, and all of a like nature which has followed it, I do not speak of as study of the Bible. That study is carried on by those who find a value in the Bible who wish to secure that value, whatever it may be. It is not the object of any Bible student, properly so called, to destroy the
of its course
tack,
;

Bible or to undermine
fluence.
is,

its

His object

is

to discover just

proper and reasonable inwhat the Bible

and how it came to be what it is. The easy way has been almost universally to assume that the Bible is the infallible word of God. It is such an assumption as has been made by millions in the case of the Koran and in the case of other revelations. Joseph Smith was informed by an angel that
at a certain spot
to

he would find a book.

He

proceeded

that spot and found a book
;

pages

composed of gold and these pages were covered with some sort
writing.

of unintelligible

By

the aid of a pair of

supernatural spectacles he was enabled to translate
this

tongue into the vernacular.

Thus came

to

human

THE

NEW METHOD
am

OF STUDY.

3

knowledge the Mormon Bible. 1 How many thousands of people have assumed that Joseph Smith did not
tell

a

lie

about the matter, I

unable to say.
lie,

We

assume, I suppose, that he did
did.

or that some one

have, on the whole, a better ground for our assumption than they have for theirs. Upon them lies a burden of proof which seems never to have been

We

appreciated by them.
Christian scholarship has been found an obligation not imposed upon our fathers, an obligation to offer some proof as to the alleged nature of the Bible. Such proof was not definitely called for while people were yet superstitiously into rest

Upon modern

clined to accept things unquestioningly.
is

It certainly
in-

called for now,

and

it

is

responded to by an

and believers in the authenticity and value of the Bible. Thus has arisen that phenomenon which has taken, perhaps somewhat fortuitously, the name of the " higher critcreasing
of Christian scholars

number

icism."

Many

reasons exist

studied in the

why the Bible should now be new way, but there is one which possiall.

bly includes them

An
"

English writer offers a

suggestion bearing upon the point.

He

says that all
of
this

progress
is,"

is

coordinate. 2

The consequence

he goes on to say, " that a barbarous age must have a barbarous jurisprudence, and consequently a barbarous theology. must see and admit that culture in one direction presupposes culture in every

We

other."

He
of

then

cites the fact that tran substantia-

tion, or the corporeal

presence of Christ in the bread

and w ine
T

the mass, did not strike the religious

1

Dr. Gladden's
J. B.

2

Who Wrote the Bible ? Heard, Old and New Theology.

p. 3.

4

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

people of the tenth century as absurd, because they
believed in the transmutation of one metal into an-

Their science affirmed this transmutation of and their theology affirmed the transmutation Bad science helped thus to make of bread into flesh.
other.

metals

;

bad theology, or

at

least

the two were coordinate.

Now

the idea has prevailed largely in the best portion

of the world that the creation of the earth was a sudden work of supernatural power, effecting the immediate result of a very complex world, composed of divers elements, and all produced out of nothing. The notion of almightiness was such that it was sup-

God to make something out something could be made out of nothing, were that something no more than a grain of sand, it followed that the making of a vast globe would present no insurmountable difficulties to the divine power and so the world came into existence. That was the science of the past and the religion Here is the of the past corresponded therewith. Bible, which is recognized by the Christian population While there was no of the world as the revelation. definite knowledge of how it came to be, it might have been claimed that it too was made out of nothing. God put commands and ideas into the mind of Moses and others. He put them thus in the mind, without reference to anything precedent. Thus the law of Moses descended out of the residence of God in the sky, as by a burst or sudden irruption of it upon the people gathered at the foot of an Asiatic mountain.
posed to be quite easy for
of nothing.
If
; :

The

revelation

was therefore created, not out

of

ma-

terials

already existing in the world, but out of that

which up to that time had not existed below the sky. It seems to have been reserved for the present cen-

THE

NEW METHOD

OF STUDY.

5

tury entirely to reverse the old conception of a more
ignorant science in regard to the creation of the earth.

The earth grew.
ated,

The theory now
to be in
its

is

that

it

was

cre-

by coming

present forms, through

perpetual modifications of previous forms.

The corresponding theory
considered as revelation,
is

in regard to the Bible,

that it also grew in hugrew out of previous and more imperfect thinkings; and that by changes, adaptations, and by what we may call the editorial work bestowed upon it, it became in due time the book we

man

thought, that

it

now

possess.

A peculiar sentiment in respect to the Bible has been
influential throughout Christendom.
like

The

sentiment,

and words which separate the Bible from all other books. Other books are men's books the Bible is God's book. Other books are of a sort to be known as secular or even profane. The history in the Bible has been called sacred and the history outside of it has been known
definite

most of our sentiments, has not been

accurately describable.

It expresses itself in

;

;

as profane history.

And

thus the Bible has had a
If

place accorded no other book in Christendom.

us a book, we must treat that book with more reverence than any other. must hold in check our criticisms of it. " Who art thou that re-

God has given

We

tion, it

God ? " If the Bible makes a declaramust be humbly accepted as a final declaration, from which there is no appeal. We may do what we please with other books; but we must treat God's book with the respect due the revelation of the Alpliest against

mighty.

Such has been the sentiment. If any persons have not shared the feeling, they have been classified often-

6

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
It
possible

times as profane and infidel persons and scoffers.
is

that

some of them deserved such
injustice.
is

classi-

fication.

It is probable that such a classification does

many

of

them rank

Anything presenting
likely to encounter in

itself to

us for our inspection

us the feeling of approbation, or the contrary. use our judgment upon a phenomenon and make up

We

our minds as to
acter,

its

character.

If

we

so hold

it

aloof

from our judgment as
then
It
;

to neglect to consider its char-

it is

of little
is

moment

to us.

Now
holds.

the Bible
is

a book found in almost all housebound in a cover, it is printed in a lan-

guage
sorts.

it
-.It

is

publishes certain propositions of various precisely as much subject to our judg-

ment

as are the rocks which lie underneath the soil, or the plants which grow in the soil. If it is said " God made the book," and we are to reverently rec-

ognize his hand in

ought also to be said that God we ought reverently to When God makes anyrecognize his hand in them. thing he invites our judgment upon it. As a matter of fact, we have always been very free in our notions of nature; and men have gone so far as to regard nature in a serious sense accursed. They have blamed
it, it

made

the rocks and roses, and

wind and weather, and grumbled unceasingly and without the
suspicion
of

irreverence

at

many

things.

Yet

these

things were in

verity God's things.

To

take exception to the book has not been tolerated.

That shows a confused

state of

mind.

We need clear-

ance of that confusion. If God had authentically written every word of the Bible, if he had caused all the printing, and the arrangement of it, and the very binding itself to be done in heaven, it would be still

open

to

men

for their inspection

and

criticism.

Our

THE

NEW METHOD

OF STUDY.

7

irreverence consists in being slaves to God, or think-

ing ourselves such, and not daring to use the gifts he has bestowed on us, and so increasing them. The Bible was not written in heaven. God did

not write one word of

it,

except secondarily.

The

only theory which has had any real ground in intelligent modern thought is that God did inspire the peo-

who wrote the Bible. Moreover, it is part of the theory of modern times that inspired men, like other
ple
I

men, are subject to error. It is conceivable that one might have particular power and discernment in one direction, or as to some special subject, but be quite
uninspired in regard to other matters.

He who
power
power.
is

excels in mathematics does so because the bestowed upon him. He did not create the He is not an independent being, standing

alone and original.

His excellence in one department

may go
acter

with defect in other departments.
is

Now

the

highest excellence

a divine product in

human

char-

and thought. It is inspiration, but it does not guard the subject of it from that human defect which we are compelled to recognize everywhere.

Our
That

experience

is

that

human

beings are imperfect.

one thing of which we are sure. There is another thing of which we have come to be equally sure, namely, that the human race has once been far
is

behind

its

present knowledge

of

all

things.

Our
first,

human

notions have been changing, slowly at

more rapidly now. It is by this change we approach more perfect knowledge. Thus it is that the more primitive men spoke from least information. They spoke as moved by the Holy Spirit, we are told, but the Holy Spirit moves in a realm of the incomplete.

8
It is

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
proposed in this book to give in a simple manso,

ner some view of the results of recent Bible study.

In doing
First.

certain principles of interpretation

criticism will be

employed

:

and

Second.
Third.

The Bible is a part of creation. The order of creation is one
All progress
is

of progress

and improvement.
coordinate.
to be studied as

Fourth.
criticism.

The Bible

is

any book

would be studied.
Fifth.
Its

It is properly subject to

human

contents furnish to a large extent the
investigation.

means for its

We
tains.

study the earth by that which

we

find

it

con-

We

have made out

its

history in the vast pe-

riods of the past

by the things which remain.

We

know

that some geologic periods were earlier in time

than others.

It is literature.

In the same manner we study the Bible. It is a group of separate documents gathered from human experience covering a period of a millennium. There is little contemporaneous literature in the light of which we may investigate the earlier portions of the Bible. A period about eight centuries before our era marks the place at which

modern scholarship begins the study
documents.

of the Biblical

We now come

to the object of this sort of study.

It is thought that the religious nature of

man

has noif

thing to do with criticism.

Our Bible

is

given for the

support and instruction of a religious
lose religious fervor.

life,

and

we

are led off into investigations of a critical sort,

we

shall

The

objection, while

it

a certain force,

is

oblivious of the fact that

may have much of
Every-

the religion of the present rests on false bases.

THE
Providence
it

NEW METHOD
has

OF STUDY.
that

9

thing has been taken for granted.

In the divine

now come about

much

of the

devout scholarship of the world is engaged in restatements. Conservatives have been afraid of the results
of the

newer scholarship

people

know what

is

; have been timid in letting going on.

It seems to me high time that the people should have information concerning the movements which have not been exposed to them. That they should have a clear understanding of the main features of the work of the great scholars. Cardinal Newman had the fear that truth itself might make a damage in the world, if it were too freely spoken. He acquired the habit of asking of a truth whether it was safe or not. It was that habit which led him to re-

lapse into the

bosom

of the mediaeval church.

We

need have no such
creation so far as

fears.
its

Religious truth, truth conorigin, the

cerning the Bible and

we can
acquire

discover
it.

it,

method of its must be of adat-

vantage to
a
is

all

who

Therefore I invite

tention to the studies of the scholars

who

are

making

new

Christian scholarship, the real end of which

to enable us to live

more

intelligently

and more

religiously,

and

less superstitiously.

II.

DIVEKS PORTIONS AND MANNERS.

Two

questions in respect to the Bible, scholarship

has asked, and is now endeavoring to answer. The importance of the questions is that upon their answers

depend the idea we shall have of the nature of the Bible. These two questions are, first, " When was the " Bible written ? " and, second, " How was it written ? Let us give heed at present to the first question, and the answer furnished by modern religious scholarship. In the first verse of the Epistle to the Hebrews these words occur " God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners." God did not speak all at once, and once for all, but distributed his communications in the
:

manner
ing age.

indicated.

!For a very long time, therefore,

there was no Bible.

There came to be a Bible-makage arrived, then the things

When

that

which were said in divers portions and divers manners by prophets and others were collected into one collection,

known

first

as the " sacred writings," or for the

most part, simply as the "writings," or Scriptures. There came a time when some person of adequate genius and comprehensive skill undertook to make a Bible out of materials scattered and incoherent. This person massed together that of human experience which appeared to him most important, and thus came
into existence a collection of before disconnected writ-

DIVERS PORTIONS AND MANNERS.
cleus of a nation's hope

11

ings and traditions, in a form which became the nu-

and aspiration and religious That is the natural way of explaining the method in which the Bible came into existence.
feeling.

If a

man

constructs houses, he goes to one quarry
fit

and gets stones
of his building.

for foundations
fit

;

to another quarry

for a finer quality of stone,

for the

upper portion

He

goes into one forest and gets

trees of one sort, for one purpose, into another forest

and gets a
poses.

different quality of

wood

for other pur-

and He mines down Thus from that makes both tools and materials. which had been in divers portions and manners, he constructs an edifice which had not been in existence
in the earth for iron,
before.
(It

student, however doubtful

can hardly be doubtful, I suppose, to the it may be to others, that
is

the Bible was constructed as really as

or music-hall

constructed.

It

any court-house came into being as

a

human

production as really as anything else which

has ever become extant

among
various

us.

When

were

these

portions written?

I

mean, of course, with relation to each other. Were the first five books written first ? Were the next two written next ? and so on. It has become possible to answer these questions. vast amount of knowledge comes to us, directly and indirectly, from comparing things with each other. We go all over the earth, and compare the products of different regions with each other. We compare climates, for one thing. We compare the animals and the plants and the various tribes and races of mankind with each other. No one can doubt that it is a most useful process. Then we proceed to compare the habits and doings

A

of people.

We look at

the dwellings of people long

12

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

how those peowho occupied the dwellings must have lived. For instance, we go into New Mexico and gaze upon the
dead, and arrive at some knowledge of
ple

old habitations of the cliff-dwellers.

We

distinguish
cliff-

them from
dwellers.

all

other people, and identify them as
to climb

They contrived
and burrow
in

tous

cliff,

up the precipithe rocks there, making for
level.

themselves a kind of nest, like the bank-swallow, at

some height above the common

Now

in their

domestic economies, people have never been in the habit of doing very many unnecessary things, and
persisting in so doing.

Therefore we search for the

necessity of the great exertion required

by these peo-

ple in hollowing out these dwellings, perched thus on
high. They proposed to make them inaccessible. They had that way of defense against roving and warThey themselves, we therefore infer, like tribes.

were not so warlike and fierce as their neighbors they We go on were more defensive than aggressive. by comparison and reach a certain definite knowledge of these people, who may have long since become exThen other peoples have built tinct on the earth. their dwellings on the level, of branches and twigs of
;

trees,

covered

them with

weather-proof

clay,

erected a kind of stockade around their village.
certain localities that sort of erection

and In

marks a period
re-

of the development of the people of that region.

Along the

valleys

and passes of the mountain

gions in Europe, crowning every spot of

vantage,

stands the ruin of a castle.

That ruin marks a period
a certain
Equally,

known

as the feudal.

It locates itself at

definite time in the annals of the world.

the remnants of dwellings built upon posts driven in

the water on the shallow margin of Swiss lakes

mark

DIVERS PORTIONS AND MANNERS.
riod,

13

a far earlier mode of defense. The men of each pebeing perhaps very widely separated in time, dead, yet speak to us by that which remains; but

lake-dwelling, cliff-dwelling,
lete,

and

castle

and pass

into the stage of record

become obsoand ruin.

If the dwellings

us a story which we can read,
erature of a people
tell

and defenses of ancient people tell much more does the litus
its story.

If literature be-

gins in some kind of sign language and hieroglyphic
art, in

body

itself in larger

tomb and temple inscriptions, it goes on to emand more enlightening form as
It is in the literature of the past that

time goes on.
of the feelings

we discover the most
of an age.
ple that

clear and comprehensive record and philosophy and religion and morals Moreover, it is by the literature of a peo-

we

are able to identify the time of the golden

and prosperous age of that people. But we must not expect exactness. We go to a considerable extent upon the ground of probability and inference. This has its disadvantages, especially to a certain class of minds, but it really makes no serious defect in the method itself. If our knowledge is simply approximate, so is the knowledge of the
or most progressive

astronomer.

a hundred thousand miles undertaken would be a very great affair indeed. We might have to encircle the world with our tracks several times but for a ray of light it is no great matter. In the ethereal distances we do not lay much stress upon the inaccuracy of a hundred thousand miles. We have not yet determined the distance of our planet from the sun in anything less than millions as the unit. The students of history, if they go back far enough in the annals of time, find themselves

A journey of
of us
;

by one

14

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

unable to give us the dates we would perhaps like to

Events came to pass, we know. Before them were events of which we know simply that they were antecedent ; and that, for very distant events, is practically all we require to know.
have.

Literature
riods, as the
it

known

as sacred, or other, has

its

eras.

A certain method of
is

literature belongs to certain pelike.

Elizabethan era, and the

We

know,

true, the
:

date of the issue of some of Shake-

we know the date of other important Contemporaneous with the English period mentioned there was an era somewhat similar in the Low Countries. We have ascertained by the critical work of our scholars that Milton wrote "Paradise Lost " and other poems after the Dutch poet Vondel had written poems upon the same themes. Further than that, it is quite evident that Milton must have been a reader of Vondel before he wrote " Paradise Lost," or while he was writing it. Milton nowhere that he read Vondel, and, so far as we know, tells us none of his contemporaries have recorded such an
speare's plays

writings.

opinion, but the student of the subject to-day as certain that Milton

is

quite

had read Vondel as

if

Milton
it

had declared the

fact in plain language.

So, then,

might be established beyond a question that a certain two poets were contemporaries, and that one wrote
a
little

before the other.

Among
as surely

known

our facts gathered by inference, but quite as almost any other facts, is this, that
is
it

the

Homeric poems antedate the Greek dramatists.
it

As

is

with other writings, so

also with the

from inand other evidence, relatively when the books which compose the volume were written.
sacred Scriptures.
are able to discover,
ternal

We

DIVERS PORTIONS AND MANNERS.
As
ther
:

15
fur-

illustrating the

mode

of ascertainment

still

certain words have

recently

come

into vogue

which were not coined a century ago. If, therefore, a in some volume of old poems, or purporting to be old poems, issued now as a new edition, and if this poem bore the date of 1780, for example and if in the poem were found the words " telephone," or " phonograph," or " steam-locomotive " or if allusions were made to Abraham Lincoln, Queen Victoria, the battle of Waterloo, Black Friday, or Prince Bismarck, we would know at a glance that the date was wrong. It might be a mistake of the printer, or the date of one poem had been applied to another or through ignorance, or willful purpose, or jest, this misplacement of a date had taken place but the evidence that there was an error would be absolutely

poem were published

;

;

;

unmistakable. 1

ument was written
incidentally, that

There are many ways of determining whether a docafter or before the beginning of the

Christian era, just as there are means of determining,
for Paul's

epistles

Paul was an earlier writer than Peter, were already extant among the
of Peter's letter wrote. \It

people

when the author

must have been so from the evidence afforded by the incidental remark of Peter that in Paul's writings were things hard to be understood. He had therefore read those things and found them difficult. I have thus sketched those common methods which are employed by students in determining when different portions of the Bible were written, but I have given only a few specimens of the ways of literary
t

critics.
1

All we require to know

is

that

there are

Dr. Gladden gives a more striking illustration,

Who

Wrote

the Bible ? p. 174.

16

CREATION OF THE

BIBLE.

modes, dictated by common-sense, and of universal application, which are used in the study of the Bible. By study it has become ascertainable that the first
parts of the Bible were not written

take up a book,
that
first

stares

When we first. we read the preface first, because us in the face, we involuntarily think
if

of that as having been first written.
cases out of ten,
it

Probably, in nine
Usually, a

was written

last.

man

does not

know how

to write the introduction to his

has come to be.
all

book until he has found out for himself what his book Now we open our Bibles, and first of
begin with the beginning.

We

naturally suppose,

from the arrangement, that the
written
;

first

word was

first

but the student brings a great

many

tests to

bear upon that matter, and by his

tests,

which are

required by common-sense and literary criticism, he

becomes very sure that the first book in the Bible was by no means the first produced. Beginnings do indeed come first in the order of nature, but not in the order of thinking. That is to say, description of beginnings comes late because such description is difficult, and much has to be learned before one knows origins and
beginnings.

The common

notion, gained

has been that a great

man

of the remote past,

we hardly know how, Moses

by name, wrote the book of Genesis for our Bible. This notion has become so embodied in religious thought, and so belongs to reverence for the Bible,
that a distinguished theologian of Princeton not long

ago asserted that the Bible would be gone from us, and religion with it, or somewhat to that effect, if Moses did not write the books commonly attributed to his authorship. That statement is instructive, but For it it also escapes being amusing by only a little.

DIVERS PORTIONS AND MANNERS.
might be paralleled with a saying that
did not write the plays credited to
if

17

Shakespeare

him we should have

no book of that title left, and the dramatic art itself would suffer destruction. I think we might deal with any assertion of a similar kind in the same way. If
the old notions of the substance of the earth

came

to

be put aside, as they were, we still have the earth left, and can manage to live upon it after some fashion. It seems to become plainer every day to critical and
Christian scholarship that Moses did not write the
five

books which have been ascribed to him.

To

the

rationalists

among

the critics

it is

quite as evident that
of

Moses did not write the book
sort

Genesis and the

other books of the Pentateuch, as that nails of the

known

as " cut nails " were not

made

in the ear-

lier times.

The material which goes

to the construc-

tion of the cut nail is very ancient, but the

modern.
is

As

the age of nail-making

making is by machinery

comparatively recent, so the age of Bible-making

came long after the time of Moses. Probably that would be admitted by the most strenuous advocate of the conservative view. At the same time such an ad^ vocate would affirm that Moses wrote that portion of the Bible or at least edited it which is known as the Pentateuch. This is becoming more and more doubtful every day. The reason why that doubt grows to a certainty is that the time of Moses did not admit of such writing or such editorial work as has been attributed to him. If we find that the earlier part of the Bible was spoken of in the New Testament as the work of Moses, if we find that Jesus speaks of " Moses and the prophets," it will be well for us to remember that the fruits of an age are not infrequently grouped under the name of some great per-

18

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
is identified

sonage of that age.
the Great,

personages.

It is

The age of Pericles, or of Charles by the great names of the great matter of convenience, and not a a
work
of

matter of

critical accuracy.

It is natural to look for the best literary

any people, not

mature period, and not while they are most busily engaged in wars of conquest or defense, but when they have acquired their best experience, and have developed their best moral
in their less

and

intellectual strength.

The evidences
its

are abun-

dant that Israel did not reach the time of Moses.

best until long after

An incident in the history of that people had a most important bearing upon the future of the world. This incident was looked upon as a calamity, and was in fact such but calamities, personal and national, may
;

prove of the utmost importance in the work of a person or a people. There came a time when the Jews

were overpowered by the superior forces of the Eastern empire, and were reduced to vassalage. There is something almost unique in this experience. The
tradition runs, that
tribes

when

the progenitors of the twelve

went into Egypt, during a famine, and were hospitably received there, they were afterward reduced, to slavery, and that of the most bitter sort. The ancient way of disposing of conquered peoples was at one time to kill them. Afterward the modification of that cruelty was to make slaves of the conquered.
It is noticeable that

when
the
its

the Assyrian

army comdeporting

pelled the surrender of the Jewish capital, they de-

stroyed the city and
the more valuable of

sacred

temple,

contents, but they did not

make

slaves of the inhabitants.

Indeed, an imperial

DIVERS PORTIONS AND MANNERS.
policy,

19

which policy was then new in the world, favors
is

the welfare of a conquered people, so far as that
consistent with the welfare of the empire.

The Jews,

therefore, were treated with consideration, although

from motives of policy they were removed from the soil, and taken to the Babylonian provinces far to the This, which was to the Jews a fearful caeastward. lamity, and all the more sorrowful to them because their affections and their religious feelings were so intimately associated with the temple, was nevertheIt broke them out of their less a very great blessing. narrow exclusiveness, and brought them in contact with other peoples, who were perhaps foremost at that time in philosophy, art, and learning. Our world is small, so long as we remain affixed to It is the old story of the soil where we were born. the eagles, securely nested and content, finding their nest broken up, and themselves pitched out of it and compelled to fly. It is a hard ordeal, but it is what makes eagles of the young birds. Judah, conquered by the imperial army, its old habitation broken into and broken down, and its people deported to the plains of Shinar, received an impetus which served it
in its mission as nothing else at that time could. It had preserved an exclusive spirit and a spirit of hatred toward other nations. There were surprises in store for it. There was a new mine of learning opened for its seers and wise men. Moreover; the humanity and even religious earnestness of the Persian conquerors of the Assyrian empire, by their friendliness, threw new light on old laws. The old narrowness was invaded by breadth. Cyrus was reckoned to be within the mercy and purpose of Jehovah; he was a man girded divinely

20

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

for his work. 1

After the days of the captivity were Jews who returned to their old home had more light than their captive fathers had They, or their leaders, wished to commit possessed.
over, those patriot

the old religion to a form old and

more permanent than the

somewhat chaotic
if

traditions.

They wished

to

put the new light into the old thoughts.

It is evident

enough,

one will be at pains to examine, that at the

close of the captivity,

Judah had arrived

at the beginIt

ning of a golden period of Bible-making.

was

then, for the first time, that the " scribe," or literary

man, made his appearance, and began his work. J Far more than the old temple and the old city walls and the old houses were rebuilt. The old law, and the old Mosaic traditions, and the old chaotic and scattered chronicles were also rebuilt, and the glory of the later house in that regard was vastly superior
to that of the earlier house. literature

The

library of sacred

was made. The hymns and the proverbs, and the laws and the legends, and the greater poems were made, not out of new material, but of the material afforded by the national traditions and feelings. So we may say with a degree of certainty that the Bible as we now have it began to be made, not in the days of Moses, and not in the days of Samuel and David and Solomon, but long afterward, in the days of Ezra the scribe, or the first literary men of
Israel.
1

Isaiah xlv. 1-5.

III.

EZKA THE SCRIBE.
It may be said that two Bibles were in use at the time of the opening of the Christian era. It is true that the one which was used in Jewish synagogues was
in an unfinished state at that time. There was some dispute among the learned as to the admission of some of the books we find in our Bible into the list of the sacred books. So that the question was still open as to what the Bible actually was. There was another Bible somewhat different from the Hebrew, and which was published in Greek. The Hebrew was mainly the language of religion, as is the Latin in the Roman Church. It was not the language commonly spoken by the Palestinian people. They used a tongue known as the Aramaic. For more comstill

mon
it is

use, as in the

households of the rich, or in schools,

probable that the Greek Bible was most in vogue.
this

It

was

Bible from which the larger portion of

the quotations

made by

the apostles and Christ

came

but this Bible, written in the Greek tongue, differed in important respects from the Hebrew scrolls. It differed chiefly in containing

much more than

the

He-

brew Bible.

We
Ezra.

discover in our Bibles at present one book of
It is a short

Greek
tles

book of ten chapters. In the from which Jesus and some of the aposquoted, there are in addition two books of Ezra.
Bible,

22

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

These additional books are quite lengthy in comparison. In the Bibles which contain them they are called the books of Esdras. Esdras is simply the Greek way of spelling the Hebrew word Ezra. Moreover, the genealogy given of the supposed writer, Esdras, is the same as that of Ezra, in the short book in our common
Bibles.

Now the fact that Jesus and his apostles made somewhat copious quotations from this Greek Bible gives rise to the probability that it was in more common use than the Hebrew Bible, of which it was supposed Ezra certainly appears to have to be a translation.
occupied a very important place in the annals of the

He was not only a great reformer, but in an important sense a prophet but his peculiar value to the Jewish nation seems to have been connected with
nation.
;

his literary work.

If

we

are to give

any credit

to the

books in the Greek Bible which bear his name (even though written later than his time), it will become evident that his work was second in importance to no
other in all the history of Israel.
It is
cently,

an orthodox opinion (or has been until

re-

and now

it is

a

little difficult

to tell precisely

what an orthodox opinion is) that because Jesus reOld Testament, and drew many things from the Old Testament, therefore the Old Testament as we now have it must be an infallibly true document. Since Jesus appears to have been acquainted with the Greek version of the Old Testament, and inasmuch as this version contains much that we now commonly reject, it is quite evident that there is no
ferred to the

proof of infallible truth in the fact that Jesus quoted

from the Bible then

in existence.

Many

things in the writing of Ezra, contained in

EZRA THE SCRIBE.

23

the two long books bearing his name, appear incredible, and there need be no quarrel with those who determined what the Old Testament should be, because they rejected these books. Yet these books contain statements which throw light upon our Bible, and also show the eminent service of Ezra the scribe. It appears that Ezra was born and was educated in Babylonia that he had his training with a number The probabilities are that of other remarkable men.
;

he above
if

all

other

men

of his nation

had the

instinct,

we may

so say, of literature.

He

responded to the

His fervent religious spirit influences around him. found a task for him; it was to give to his nation the teachings of Jehovah, and of the wise men of the past, in the more durable form of a sacred collection.

Now
cient

the wise

men

of that age, as well as other an-

ages, were

accustomed to speak much in an
literature, the priest,

oracular form.
guide,

In all the ancient

or prophet, or the sage consulted

by the people as a had a peculiar method of speech. [He did not
story in plain

tell his

language, but in figures of

speech;.

So much was the figure of speech the mode

of such talk that we, in our time, think the ancients were always speaking fables. The prophet or other guide of the people, who was subject to vivid impressions, put forth those impressions in statements we find hard to believe indeed, it is quite impossible As I read the books of Esdras, it to believe them. seems almost probable that it was never intended that
;

the statements should be believed in their literal form.

The words
is,

of wise

for those

men were given for wise men, that who could seek the meaning couched in
and
fables.

parables, stories,

24

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

Ezra tells us that he was sitting one day under an and that there came a voice out of a bush near by. This voice called him by name. Ezra arose and answered, " Here I am, Lord." Then the Lord answered him out of the bush, reminding him that it was from a bush God had talked with Moses long before it was from the bush Moses went to lead the people of Israel out of bondage into Canaan. 1 It was time for the same thing to happen again. Israel was in captivity, though not of the bitter sort, and the period of the captivity had elapsed. There must now be a new Moses to lead the people out of captivity back to the land of promise. The voice speaks to Ezra, and Ezra answers. It is through this
oak,
:

conversation that one
Israel at that day.

may
Ezra

learn the state of things in

is to go upon his mission, and to make a new start for the nation. He tells the Lord that the law is burnt, and therefore " no man knoweth the things which God does." The idea conveyed is that the precious scrolls or tablets had been destroyed. If Moses had committed anything to writing, or if his successors had done so, the remnant of that had suffered destruction in the calamities which had come upon the house of Jacob. All that work must be done over again. Therefore, as the story goes, Ezra is directed to gather the people, and bid them let him alone for the space of forty days. It was for the same space that Moses had been away from the people in communicaHaving thus warned the people, Ezra tion with God.
is

directed to prepare suitable materials for writing,

and take with him five ready writers. He did as commanded, and the next day heard a voice bidding him
1

2 Esdras xiv.

EZRA THE SCRIBE.
drink what should be offered him.

25

was of the appearance of

fire.

What he drank After drinking that

potion the spirit of understanding was strong in him,

and he spoke many

things.

The Highest gave untells

derstanding to the five men, and they wrote the wonderful visions of Ezra.

Ezra

us that his

mem-

ory was strengthened, and that as a result of his visions a large number of books were written during

We are unable to determine whether the number of books thus prepared was two hundred and four, or nine hundred and four but it was a large number. It is in such a manner
the forty days of his seclusion.
;

that

we are

told of the

making

of a collection of sacred

books.

We

infer that for a long period, lasting at

least seventy years, the sacred scrolls
terials of the

and other maIt is

Jews had been out of

existence.

very natural to think that when a city has been destroyed by conquerors, its temple and other buildings razed to the ground,
its

sacred scrolls would be

of. So that if Moses had written the five books of the Pentateuch, as many think he did, and if later writers had written other books, such as the books of Gad the seer and Nathan the prophet, and the like (which books are mentioned in our Bible as having once existed), it would appear probable that these books had all suffered destruction. The tradition which is embodied in the books of Ezra alludes to the strengthening of the memory

burned, or otherwise disposed

of the scribe.

The use of memory is not to originate something, but to recall the events and sayings of
Before we dismiss the feat of memory displayed by it will be well to remember that the Buddhists

the past.

Ezra,

believe that the

works of Gautama, the Buddha, were

26

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

not committed to writing by him, but that they were learned by his disciples, and passed along down by

memory alone. This is not impossible. known that the Yedas were handed down in this manner for many hundreds of years, and no one would now dispute the enormous powers of memory to which Indian priests and monks attained, when
the effort of
It
is

written books were not invented, or only used as helps
to

memory. 1
If

we leave the extra books of Ezra which are not found in our version of the Bible, and turn to that
book of Ezra which our common Bibles contain, we shall come upon facts suggestive of the proposition that to Ezra we are indebted for the making of the
Bible, in
its first

form.

In the

first

year of the reign of Cyrus the Persian,
;

a decree was issued for the rebuilding of Jerusalem If we follow the and the work was undertaken. common chronology, this was in the year 536, or thereabouts, B. c. Afterward, during the reign of Artaxerxes, a coalition was formed against the pious Jews, who were engaged in rebuilding their city. The conspirators complained to the king that Jerusalem had always been a city of rebellion, and that if it were built again it would seek to become an independent power, and therefore the king's revenue would suffer, and the like. The king caused the records to be searched, found the charge substantiated, and ordered the work to cease. Afterward, however, Artaxerxes was induced to modify this decree, probably through the influence of Ezra, and the scribe was
himself commissioned to press the work of restoration
forward.

The copy
1

of the letter given

by the mon-

Rhys Davids, Buddhism.

EZRA THE SCRIBE.
arch to Ezra
is is

27

" This king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, a scribe of the words of the commandments of Jehovah, and of his Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto statutes to Israel. Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven," etc. It is the opinion of some of the foremost and most expert scholars that about this time the Bible took tangible form, and the Jews began to be the " people of the book." It is quite impossible to fix with entire certainty upon the man, or master spirit, who did the most in reducing to proportion the Holy Scriptures, but certainly the indications point to Ezra more than The eminence of this man is somewhat to any other. obscured to Bible readers by the inferior place and space accorded him in the Bible but it accords well with the spirit of the prophets, earlier and later, to keep themselves and their particular work in the background. If we look for qualification for the enterprise of Bible-making, we find no one superior to Ezra, a man recognized by decree of the king as a writer of the laws of Jehovah. He may have been one of a number engaged in that important and pious enterprise, which was primarily
contained in the book of Ezra.
the copy of the letter that the
;

to recover the people to obedience

and righteousness. In order to that, it was needful that the law should take a more tangible shape, and moreover that it should be placed in its appropriate historical setting. It was necessary at last that Israel's story should be told, as only a scholar and a trained man of letters could tell it. The indications are that Ezra had five colaborers in this work, and that their work was of a magnitude greater than any previously undertaken. The

28

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
There was
first

materials were abundant.

of all the

prophetic

work

of the period beginning, say, two

and

a half centuries before. There was then the historic work which had been going on during the period of
exile.

There was the vast body of

tradition,

and no

people have been better furnished with tradition than Let us suppose that the Assyrians had the Jews.
also their of the creation of the world.

the exile

They had their story Perhaps it was during that the Jews became acquainted with the
body
of traditions.

story of creation. Or if they possessed their independent traditions, they were modified by the Assyrian
ideas.

Whatever the Assyrians had

in the

way

of

creation-story could, readily be appropriated

by the

Jews, inasmuch as their progenitor was an emigrant from that very region.

According to the researches of recent students, it becomes more and more probable that the story of the creation was first written in the form we now possess Inasmuch as the account at the time of the exile.
bears evidence of being composite, that
is,

of being

drawn from different sources, one may almost see the places where the primitive Assyrian and the primitive
Israelitish versions are joined together.
It will be noticed that all along this

way

of study

we

are following the line of the greatest probability.
is

There
ters.

absolutely no other

way

of studying such mat-

The
came

old

method

of maintaining that the Scrip-

tures

into being miraculously is a following of

a

way

of improbabilities.

Study proceeds along such a
evidence in these later days
influence

course with immense difficulty at present.

At any
story.

rate, it is in

that Israel's story

became connected with the Assyrian
demonstrates
itself

The Assyrian

EZRA THE SCRIBE.

29

very fully. It is well to bear in mind the difference between history and myth. The two are connected in the earlier ages of the world ; but it is our work, with the light we have, to distinguish between the two. The reverent study of the Bible does not consist in
shutting our eyes to the facts, but in being very closely

observant of them.
early beginnings,

When we

undertake the study
it

of the life of Israel, as a whole, tracing

from

its

we

are very sure to encounter state-

ments which are historical, and others which are unThat the children of Jacob were in bondThat they came out of age in Egypt is history. Egypt by the hand of a strong leader is also historical, and that this strong man enacted suitable laws for their conduct is historical. They came into the land of Canaan, and dispossessed the inhabitants. In the
historical.

telling of the story there

we

is a great amount of what learned to call " folk-lore" connected with it. have

Jehovah was recognized by Israel as their national God. Other nations had their gods also. In time there grew up the purer conception of the universal domain of the God of Israel, Jehovah. Traces of the growth of that conception are found in the wonderful little book of Jonah, and in the prophets of the eighth
century
B. C.

God of Israel, it came about concerned intimately in their delivthat their God was erance from the house of bondage, and in their entry
Since Jehovah was the

upon the land

So we have the truth of government set forth in terms of God's Moses, the great deliverer, went up to the folk-lore. the top of a lofty mountain in the wilderness, and There God gave him the set of there he met God. laws which were to be the code of the people. These
of Canaan.

dealing, his

30
laws

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

God had engraved on two tables of stone. God engraved them with his finger. man would have to use tools, but God does not need them. Moses meets God in the top of this lofty mountain, and is there with God for forty days, and then comes down and delivers the law. That seems to have been one version of the folk-lore. There was another, if not

A

several others. Another account declares that God came down to the top of the mountain, and there in a mighty voice spoke out these laws to the trembling people below. When at last the work of making the history of Israel began, it was not found necessary, as
it

now would
are

be, to reconcile these various accounts.

They

woven

together, as though they were not

to be. History was and there was no such skill in it as would be demanded of the historian now. Stories had grown in the mind of the people for hundreds of years, and had been rehearsed by parents Part of the stories were historical, and to children.

contradictory, as

we may see them

in its infancy then,

part the dressing of the idea of the interest of Jeho-

vah in the people.

That such stories had been passed along the centuries, from parent to child, from one
is

generation to another, without subtraction, or addition,
or other modification,

simply incredible to the

his-

torical student of this time.

During the captivity, the past glories of Israel, its mighty triumphs in the power of Jehovah, and its sufferings and deliverances had been dwelt upon. The example of the past furnished the hope of a deliverance
still

in store.

We

may

think of the expe-

riences of Israel as

becoming panoramic in the mind of a man of letters, like Ezra. The laws were forever associated in all minds with the name of Moses,

EZRA THE SCRIBE.

31

but the writing of the laws and of the history in which they were environed is of the time of the exile, long So much emerges to very after the days of Moses.

high probability in the study of the present time. It will be asked, " Did Ezra, or some other man of Certainly not in letters, manufacture the history ? "
the sense of inventing
it.

Prescott's

"Mexico" and

" Peru " are not invented history. The accomplished historian relied for his data upon such facts as were accessible to him. He gathered them from all attain-

have later discovered that some of were untrustworthy. Yet his work was simple as compared with that of Ezra, the scribe. The Israelitish folk-lore was so abundant, and had so taken hold of the thought and life of the nation, that no historian could have gone free from its
able sources.
his sources of information

We

commanding
were to

fully choose out of that

it that Ezra did faithmass the very things which him the most true and important*

influence.

I take

IV.

HISTORY-MAKING.
of a history does not come early in the accomplishments of a people. If primitive people knew how to tell a connected story of their experiences, and make books, they would not deserve Such work they know not to be called primitive. how to do. They commit to such writing as they posliterary
sess the art of, their simple philosophy, their poetry,

The making

their sayings,

which have a recognized value, like

proverbs.
to

They do not make their history. It seems be a pity, because we have a curiosity concerning

early beginnings.

We would be
it is

glad to

know

all

the

facts of the forgotten centuries, if that

were possible.

We

certainly find that
is

impossible.

A

text of

Scripture

quoted, as showing that what things are
It

impossible with us are possible with God.

might

be applied to the matter in hand.
for us to

It

is

impossible
It

know

the early beginnings of history, exis

cept in the most general and vague way.
ble,

possi-

so

early

we have been told, for God to make these beginnings known to us by inspiration. If God

which he has no why should any one find fault with that? Certainly no one ought to find fault with it, if it is true that God has proceeded in that way. Let us suppose that inspiration is the quickening of
inspires a
to tell things about

man

other information except inspiration,

HIS TOR Y-MAKING.
one's powers of

33

memory, or of reason, or of all the That is a reasonable supposition. Inspiration, then, would be different from hearing something from another person, or reading something from an inscription or a tablet. If God, or the Jehovah of Israel, were like a man, if Jehovah were possessed of a body like a man's body, in every way except that his body is invisible to our senses, and if God were to speak to a man, say Ezra or Moses or another, out of a bush, in an audible voice, so that the sound of the voice came into the man's ears, like any other voice and if God should in that way tell the man how the earth was created, and how man was made, and why man is so often bad in his character and conduct, If the man could that would not be inspiration. understand the meaning of the words used, and if he
faculties.

could catch the ideas of the sentences thus delivered,

he would not have need of inspiration, in the sense

The ChrisMoses and Ezra, and many That they did not have others, were inspired men. things told them by some voice speaking outside of
in

which that word

is

usually understood.

tian theory has been that

seems to have been the notion of the men who wrote the Holy ScripIf he was right about it, tures were inspired men. then these men were quickened in their faculties, and did not have new or extraordinary faculties given
themselves.
It

Apostle Paul that the

them.

Now among
agination.

other of our faculties
are
justified in

is

that of im-

We
call

concluding, are

we

not? that if God wished to communicate anything to any person, the communication would be made in that
faculty

we

the imagination.

It

may

be said that

God

communicates with us by means of conscience,

34

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
of the judgment, but without imagina,

and by means
tion

we should make nothing of it. Yery well. The question pertinent
is this
:

to our present

purpose
people

— the man who extracted history from the tanall

How

did the historian of the Jewish

gled mass of tradition, folk-lore, legend, myth, and
the like, and
of
it

— accomplish
?

made a

veritable historical construction

his

work ?

Did he employ

his im-

agination or not

All will probably confess that he

must have used his imagination, because in literary work of all kinds, and especially in the historical kind,
imagination
is

indispensable.

him some other way than that by which we arrive generally at knowledge of facts ? Are we to suppose that Jehovah came to him, and told him, in so many words,
the other hand, were facts communicated to
in

On

or at least in substance, that the

first

human being

was made of the dust of the ground, that he was moulded in the shape of the human frame, and that afterward a rib was taken from his side, and made over into a woman ? It would be difficult to believe that Jehovah told him that story in an audible voice, or wrote it on tablets, or otherwise. The features of the creation-story were in the ideas of men, and had been so lodged in the human mind
for a long time.
It is

probable that

many

persons of

different generations exercised their imagination

upon

the subject of the creation.

How

did things come to

be as we see them? How was the sky stretched out, and how were the stars set in it? How did the
waters come to be gathered into one place, and the land in other places ? Are there windows in the sky through which the rain is dropped? It seems so. By thinking on these subjects, generation after gen-

HISTORY-MAKING.
eration, there

35

an imagination of the mandid not make himself, and he did not always exist, therefore he must have been made. How was he made ? Why, there is no better way, before we know to the contrary, than to judge according to the appearance, and make up our minds that the Maker of man took the dust, and made a man and a woman out of it, and that thus began the human

must

arise

ner of the creation.

Man

race.

never told any one so in any direct way. have found out more about creation during the past half century than all the ancients and moderns have an immense array put together ever knew. of testimony to the effect that our present theory is the true one but among the people of old Israel

God

We

We

;

there was never any proof that the old theory was
correct, except the ideas of

men who supposed
Ezra the

that

appearances were safe to go by.

The

historian, say of the time of

scribe,

undertaking to construct out of the material at hand
a history of the past, did faithfully apply himself

and culled out of the mass of ideas, and other material, his story of the beginning of things and the continuance of them in the nation of Israel. There was a demand for a history, and he was prepared to meet that demand. His memory, his imagination, and all his faculties were placed at the service of that demand, and there resulted those books of the Old Testament which we distinguish as
to
his task,
facts,

historical.

The work

of the historian

is

not easy,

it is difficult.

One

difficulty

may

be specified.

An

observer, stand-

ing high above the level of the ground, as on the top of a mountain, enjoys a larger view of things

36

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

than that of the observer lower down. He has a wide prospect, and all that he sees gives a true idea to his mind. The farther away his eye roves from the
objects in the immediate foreground, the less he can

discern

of

details

and

particulars.

Near him

lie

stones of a definite shape, containing so
feet

many
is

cubic

and inches

;

here and there are masses of snow,
If

accurately

measurable.
facts.

the

observer

of the
defi-

critical sort,

he can treasure up in his mind the

nite

and smaller
is

As

regards the distance, his

observation
miles away,

limited to outlines,

of color and form.
it

If he beholds a patch of

and a general idea snow

is

vastly larger than the small patch

same in size. would be very different. The shapes of objects would change. The historian is the man who goes up to a high point of observation, and takes his view. The things which are nearest him he perceives with entire clearThe things which are far from him in time, he ness. He can perceive outlines, and he feels sees faintly. the necessity of filling out these outlines to make them correspond in detail with the time he knows best. The
If the point of view were shifted, the scene
first

at his feet, although it seems to be the

historians attribute to

men

of a distant era the
intelligence

feelings

and purposes and the

which be-

longs to their
that

own

era.

The

first

historians are there-

fore unskillful.

If there is
is

a truth in the statement

human nature human

the same the world over, and in

all times, it is

a truth of limited range.

The

fact is

that

nature changes in important ways as time

goes on, and that our environment has a great deal to

do wi!h our nature.
ish people did not

The know

first

historian of the Jew-

that; even Milton did not

know

it.

HISTORY-MAKING.
The work
time of the
exile,

37

before the historian of the Jews, at the

was

to connect the present nation

with

its past,

and

to connect

both with the beginning

of things.

The
to

national divinity, Jehovah, had beof the prophets

come more
of

some

and

seers of that

period than one of the gods.

They were thinking
all

Jehovah as the Creator of
all.

nations,

and the

rightful Sovereign over

They were

at last emer-

ging from the narrowness of their ancestors.

So the

historian,

the learning of the ancients,
the beginning;
for the

who had acquainted himself with knew his field, even to
wisdom
of

the ancients in-

cluded everything, even the
begins with the
first

first

things.

Thus he

man, who was as

real to him,
first man man made all

perhaps, as any other in the series.
at once,

The

being, so to speak, a ready-made man, a

was complete from the day his eyes first saw His name was furnished, too. It was, in English, The Kuddy.1 It was quite natural that a man thus made should have such a name. It was
the light.

further natural
give

that a

man

thus completed at one

stroke should be able to reason consecutively,

names

to the various animals

surrounded.

He could

attend to
soil in

and to by which he was the horticultural work
such a

demanded by

the garden in which he found himself.

He

could cultivate the

way

as to in-

crease the value of the trees.

All this presented no

insurmountable
people now.

difficulties to the historian,

and

it

pre-

sents no difficulties

to a great multitude of honest

There was a
historian,

difficulty, however, in the mind of the such as might arise in the mind of any
is,

thoughtful person of ancient times, that
sity of attributing to
1

the neces-

Jehovah a bad
tied Earth.

creation.

Mat-

Or perhaps

38

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

thew Arnold has said a very helpful word to us in telling us that to Israel, more than to any other people, belonged the intuition of righteousness. Jehovah was righteous, and was able, after he had finished the work of creation, to pronounce everything he had made good. A righteous Creator would not make an unrighteous world. Yet the hard fact stares us in
the face, that unrighteousness prevails widely,
universally, throughout the world.
if

not

The wisdom

of the ancients

out of that serious difficulty.

had furnished a way The man was forbidden
;

to eat of the fruit of a single tree in the garden.

tree

That was the knowledge of good and evil by abstinence from that tree the man could be perfect, or right: the moment he ate of that tree he would become wrong. That is to say, before eating of that tree he should know nothing of good and evil, any more than a bird flying in the air and alighting on
the'

branches.

We

should not
case.

now regard him a
it

moral being, in that

Yet

has long been the

theory of religion that

Adam,

before he

knew

the dif-

ference between right and wrong, was a good being.

Now Ezra, if he was the historian, as we may assume for convenience he was, was not very expert in making distinctions which would occur to almost any one now who gave heed to a matter. He was solicitous that God should be right, and his creation should emerge from his hands perfect but he had to account for evil in some way and the legend of the
;
;

serpent, which

may have

belonged to various peoples,

Jehovah had made the serpent. He says: "The serpent was the most crafty of all the brutes on the earth, which Jehovah made." * This ser-

came

to his aid.

1

The LXX.,

Bagster's edition.

HIST OR Y-MA KING.

39

pent had either partaken of the fruit of the tree of
the knowledge of good and evil, or in some other way had acquired the knowledge, and came and talked with the woman whom Jehovah had made for the man's companionship. If all the rest of creation was fair and good, here was one part of it which was not good. Moreover, the evil which was in this serpent was more powerful than all the good which Jehovah had made, but that did not occur to Ezra. He had to account for evil, and here was the way of it, ready furnished by the legends of the ancients.

The serpent talked to the woman in a tempting manner. That a serpent should talk, and that in a language which the woman could understand, did not trouble the mind of the historian. It was contained in the learning of the ancient world, and since it fitted his purpose it was available. We may have been accustomed to read into this simple narrative something which we have found necessary. We may have incarnated a malignant and very powerful spirit of evil in this brute. It is sometimes necessary to read meanings into the language Whatof the ancient sayings in order to save them. ever we may do, however, it is improbable that our He was making the historian saw these meanings. history of his people, and from the beginning of time and he was choosing from the material afforded by the wisdom of the world that which was fit for his purrpose. While he was doing that work he was in the hands of that Providence which is ever providing. Out of roots of past thought spring flowers of later and better thought. After we have the later and the better, we can read into the earlier the best we know. The wise man can read the tulip in the bulb and the
|

40

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
That has nothing
historian.

oak in the acorn.
historical

to

do with the
connects the

work

of the

He

reputed founder of the

Isi'aelitish tribes

with the

first

man. He has the names of families. Genealogies have been preserved, as such things are preserved, when people learn their value. The names belonging
to the earliest periods

may

well be unhistorical.

The

mixture of the historical with the purely mythical was
inevitable to the historian of that time.
If

we bring

to bear

on

this subject the faculties of

judgment we are

in the habit of applying

everywhere

(except, perhaps, to the Bible),

we

shall be compelled,

for various reasons, to hold the beginning of the his-

tory in the Bible to be mythical.
If

we were

to

meet anywhere, outside of our Bible,

a story of a serpent talking to a woman, uttering articulate words with sense in them, we should hold that
to be

an ancient myth.
it

We

should never for a moIf in

ment mistake
single

for history.

any language we

read the story of a god making a

woman

out of a

bone taken from a sleeping man, we would not for a moment hesitate to call it a myth. Why should we hesitate to do the same thing when we discover such a story in our Bible ? If we are to hold our reason and judgment in abeyance when reading that book, how will we be able to get good out of it ? How shall we maintain anything like mental integrity ? The first portion of the Bible presents to our view
the

work

of a historian

who

is

not able to distinguish

actual history from legend.

Stories were extant which

were venerable, and commanded the assent of the wise. These stories helped him to the data he was seeking, and which were necessary to the completeness of his work. By their means he saw, as he supposed, how

HISTORY-MAKING.

41

man was made from the dust of the ground, and howwoman was made from the rib of the man. He found how evil came into the world, as well as how Jehovah
kept a seed of righteousness
alive.

For some purpose
life

he saw the necessity of attributing a
covered legends to that
effect.

of great

length to these early dwellers in the land, and dis-

All of which, when
criti-

we come
cism,
is

examine it in the light of historical simply and unmistakably mythical.
to

The

first

chapter of Genesis

many
it is

different ways.

However

may be interpreted in it may be interpreted,
It really has

a work of the imagination.

torical basis whatever,

no

his-

it is

in the nature of guess-

work.
less

Ezra regarded it

as historical material.

Doubt-

he supposed other things equally untenable.

He

imagined that the sun revolves around the earth. He thought that God commanded the people to offer sacrifices, although sundry persons of a period earlier than his own, by a century or more, disputed it. Now guesswork has its value. If guesswork is serious

and

skillful,

we now

call it " hypothesis."

New-

ton guessed at the solution of one of the great prob-

lems of the universe.
of another.
It
is

in the

Darwin guessed at the solution work of hypothesis that in-

most apparent. Let us admit that in the cosmogony of Genesis we have not history, but inspired hypothesis. The value of it is demonstrated by the scientific opinion of experts that no such good account of creation has appeared in the annals of time, up to a recent date, as that contained
spiration becomes, so to say,
in the Bible. 1
1

The Dean

of Peterborough quotes

Haeckel as affirming that

" from Moses,

who died about 1480
A. d., there has

was born 1707

c, down to Linnaeus, who been no history of creation to be
b.

42

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
The
historical character of the

books of the Bible
is

is

invalidated, however,

by the discovery that the very
not,

material which has been supposed to be history

and, in the nature of

the

case,

cannot be history.

When we
history in

reach the period of the Flood we
it.

may be

said

to approach that which has

some elements of actual
is

Such a

flood as

described

may be

set
it

down
was
self

as an impossibility.

Mr. Gladstone thinks
;

possible, but then

Mr. Gladstone has proved him-

from expert in many things whereas the show us why the flood, as described, could not have occurred. If it could have occurred, then natural laws were set at defiance, in which case we have nothing to go by. That there may have been
far
scientific experts

a flood, of a local
vastated
unlikely.

sort,

such a flood as has since deflood

many

a fair portion of the earth, seems not
this

That

local

was an important
also

event in the history of mankind

may

be admitted.

All that we can say
the historical
history,

is

that the account contained in

work of Ezra shows us how he made his and history made in that way is not reliable?) There is this line of righteous life which the historian finds must have been maintained. The line reaches at length to Abraham, who becomes the founder of a great nation. The same thing which characterizes the history before

Abraham

is

also continued

afterward.

every point

The mythical element is introduced at in the narrative. It was so in the history

of all peoples.
of mankind, so far as it grows out of the comes to us by growth. We have wheat the wheat does not appear in the world in the naked seed
;

The food

soil,

compared

to the Biblical."

Professor Sanday's Oracles of God,

p. 10, note.

HISTORY-MAKING.
it

43

grows in a protecting envelopment.
is

When

the
off,

time arrives for that envelopment to be stripped

ready to fulfill its mission of feeding the world, but not before. For Christendom the Bible has grown up as food for the spiritual nature. It has been growing, and it has been preserved in its integrity. Now it seems its integrity is being broken. Criticism is disengaging the real food food for the from its sheath of untrustworthy hisspirit of man

then the wheat

tory.
is

We

see that

it

is

unverifiable history.
it

That
is

the first step.

Until

is

seen that the history

subject,

and properly,

to our reason, to our judgment,

we do not

get into the real intent of the Bible as

a revelation. "He will burn the chaff in the unquenchable fire," said John of the coming Son of Man.

What

if

the fire be already kindled in shape of that

searching, merciless,

and scrupulous

criticism

which

has newly come into play?

V.

TRADITIONAL SOURCES.

To many, doubtless, the critical examination of the Bible appears to be simply a process of tearing the Bible to pieces. It offends the religious sense, and
the feeling of reverence which has been inherited, or

has otherwise gained possession of the mind.
offenses

must needs come, but woe

to

Such them by whom
the ap-

they come.
plication of

We
it

are in the habit of admitting the

validity of a principle, but

when we behold

we
is

are troubled, and thrown into an

offended state.
that the Bible

We
is

may

be quite willing to admit

subject to critical study,

and ought
critical
infalli-

to be critically studied;

yet
to

when by such

— a book produced men; good men, and inspired men, but not by necessarily accurately informed men, — a sense
ble revelation, but a
fallible

study the Bible

found

be no flawless and
book,

human

of be-

reavement and

loss

comes upon

us.

If it is

shown

that there are mistakes in the Bible, the inference to

which some minds swiftly move is that it therefore becomes an unsafe guide in religion. Moreover, if the Bible is God's book, how is it possible that it should
contain errors
?

A distinguished
church
is

bishop 1 has recently and explicitly

told the clergy of his diocese that the doctrine of the

that the Bible contains two elements, the
1

Bishop Potter.

TRADITIONAL SOURCES.
human and
pose that
it

45

the divine.
is
it

all
is

suppose that
the church
it is

He says it is one error to supGod's book, and another error to all man's book. The doctrine of
both

that

it is

human and
is

divine.

Now
it.

is

proverbial that to err

human.

If there is a

human element It may be that
not.

in the Bible, there are errors in

they are not important, but the disis

covery of an error

a real discovery, important or

As

a matter of fact, such mistakes are plainly

discoverable.

be a thankless task to ascertain the true it, but it is a task demanded imperatively by the age in which we live, and by the peculiar crisis which has come in our reliIt

may

nature of the Bible, or to attempt

There comes a time in the experience of men its overthrow. (It is a hard ordeal to see our idolatry broken down, but if we do not flee from idolatry, we may find ourselves dispossessed of The Bible is a created thing, and we our idols. have worshiped and served the created thing rather than the Creator when we have worshiped the Bible, or maintained in the face of the evidence that it is
gion.

when

idolatry meets

infallible.

The

idea of an infallible guidance, and from a book,
It be-

belongs to a social state different from ours.
longs to a less individualistic social state.
the Bible
is

Moreover,

of too composite, not to say self-contra-

dictory, a nature to furnish an infallible guidance for

any one.
gion have
deficiency

Recognizing which

fact, the leaders of reli-

made
of

the creeds for our guidance.
for the

istence of a creed has been

The exdemanded by an actual
Bible presents a

the Bible

;

mass of material which the common mind has not been able to deal with. The uncommon minds have

46

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
principles

drawn

and theories out

of this

mixed mate-

rial for

the guidance and government of men.
religious

Some

men have

stubbornly closed their

eyes to the discrepancies in Bible narratives.

They
;

have declared that there were no discrepancies but Perit requires no very great learning to find them. sons who have been attentively reading the sacred writings of Israel in the original tongue have clearly made out the presence of two elements in large porTo an inattentive reader of the tions of the Bible. Bible in the English these two might not appear. If one were to read any of the books, or the encyclopaedia articles bearing upon the subject, the matter would become quite plain. The two elements are manifest from the two words applied to Deity. The Hebrew word for God was El, and the plural The gods of the Phoenicians of that is Elohim. would be spoken of as Elohim. There was another word which was applied only to the God of Israel, and that was Jehovah, or, more simply, Jahveh. Now these two words are not used interchangeably, but their use indicates that two original accounts are put together. If we were to adopt the distinction now

made by our

scholars,

we should

say that there were

word Elohim was applied to God, and Jehovistic Scriptures in which the word Jehovah is applied. It would
Elohistic Scriptures, or Scriptures in which the

leaders of the

appear that there were people among the religious Hebrews who did not know of Jeho-

vah, and others who did. Inasmuch as the idea of Jehovah was not the first, we may conclude that some time elapsed before the people were believers in Jehovah. When people had learned to think about Jehovah, they would write that name, instead of the

TRADITIONAL SOURCES.
older name, Elohira.

47

There

is

something peculiar in

the use of the plural word, (which would properly be translated " gods,") which, however, we need not enter

two words inand that the historian endeavored to put together in some sort of harmony things which were irreconcilable. The river Rhone issues from Lake Geneva, a clear Before the Rhone falls into the peaceful stream.
into now.
Suffice
it

to say that these

dicate different original writers of traditions,

bosom

of the lake

it is full

of the material
;

made by
all

the grinding of the rocks in the glaciers

but

that

and when the river flows from the lake it is pure. short distance below it is joined by the river Arve, which takes its rise chiefly in The Arve is a the glaciers of the Mt. Blanc region. muddy stream, and where it joins the current of the Rhone, the waters do not mingle, but there is a line of demarkation between them. The two streams flow between the same banks, and make one river, but the waters are different, and their difference is plainly to which things, as Paul would say, are an be seen, allegory, or parable. Let us say that the Elohistic idea, that is, the idea of gods or superior powers, is that far from pure theistic conception which primitive men acquire. That is the idea which Israel, in common with
impurity
is left

in the lake,

A

other peoples, inherited

;

but falling into the experience

of that peculiar people, there gradually emerges the

pure idea of Jehovah, one God, who is creator and sovereign of all. This seems to have been the pure conception of the prophets of Israel, or of some of them.

Now,

in constructing the history of the nation, the

historian does not begin with Jehovah, but with Elohiin. The two streams, the Jehovah stream and the Elohim stream, are brought together in one current

48

CREATION OF THE
is

BIBLE.

of history, but they do not mix.

The

Elohistic ac-

count of the creation
Genesis.

given in the

first

chapter of

At

the fourth verse of the second chapter

another account appears.
introduced for the
the
first

There the word Jehovah
time.
first.

is

The second account
In the
first

does not harmonize with the

account

Elohim causes plant life to precede animal life. In the second account Jehovah first creates man of
the ground, and

the dust of

afterward causes the
the Elohistic account,

plants to grow.

\The

first

is

and the second is the Jehovistic account, and the second contradicts the first. So that although the two run together in the same historic record, they are as distinct as are the waters of the Arve from those of In the first account, as any one can see the Rhone. by simply reading, God commands the plants to grow. In the second, Jehovah causes a mist to rise from the
ground.

In the

first

created before man.

account the lower animals are In the second account man is

made first, then the lower animals, and afterward woman. One does not require learning in the Hebrew or any other ancient tongue to be able to see All that any one needs is an honest these facts.
endeavor to see the facts as they are, and to understand the significance of common English words. For
our translators have performed a service for
us, in

many

editions of the Bible, in translating the

word
it

Jehovah by the word Lord, and have caused
be printed in small capitals.
the word

to
see

Lord

in small
is

When, therefore, capitals, we can know

we

that

the Jehovistic account

introduced there.

Thus

it is

seen that in the religious treasure of Isif

rael at least two,

not more, sorts and series of tra-

ditions were contained.

Proof of

this

emerges from

TRADITIONAL SOURCES.
the stories which are told,

49

now

of one person

and

now

of another.

The

Elohistic tradition will attach

itself to

one name, and the Jehovistic tradition to
is

another.

An
ham,

instance of this

found in a

tale told of

Abra-

in the twentieth chapter of Genesis.

The same

AbraSarah to call herself his sister, fearing that Abimelech, king of Gerar, will kill him for the sake of his wife. The same story is told of Isaac and his wife, and in each case Abimelech is the king of Gerar. That a like experience of a domestic sort should happen to father and son is not improbable but because the second tale makes no
tale is told of Isaac, in the twenty-sixth chapter.

ham commands

his wife

;

first is

we reach the probability that the same story as the second, only applied to different persons. Yet when we see that the first story uses the word Elohim, and the second Jehovah, it becomes quite evident that we have in the incident only one account, given, however, in two traditions. It is
allusion to the first

the

related that

and and
adds

called the

Abraham digged a well at a certain name of the place Beer-Sheba.
name
of
it

place,
It
is

related that Isaac digged a well in the
called the
:

same country,
is

Sheba, and the historian
of the city

" Therefore the

name

Beer-Sheba

unto this day."
different persons
also.

We

perceive the great probability

that the different traditions
to the

attached the names of
this case

same incident in

The two
tive

traditions are closely joined in

some

places,

as in the account of the Flood.

The Jehovah

narra-

and the Elohim narrative are dovetailed into each other, but they do not match as to the facts. The Elohim narrative says that the animals are to be taken

50

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
two by two.
"

into the ark

Two

of every sort shall

thee to keep them alive." The Jehovah narrative says " Of every clean beast shalt thou take

come

to

:

and seven, the male and the female, and of the unclean beasts two, the male and the female." A discrepancy manifests itself to the most unobservant observer. There is a difference between twos and sevens, which is represented by the number five. This discrepancy arises from the bringing together into one history of two traditions which contradict
to thee seven

each other. The Apostle Paul seems to have been in the habit of introducing parentheses of exhortation into the current of his argument.
tions.

He

wished to anticipate objec-

He

desired

that those

who read

his letters

should be in a right frame of mind.

Following his

it may be well to anticipate the objection, which is not unlikely to arise, that the method here pursued tends to tear the Bible to pieces. Surely that is an objection well worth consideration. All

example,

nature

is

studied.

We look as closely as we may into
It is well that at the

the developments of nature.

we should

do

so.

While we study nature we

and

Now the

an extent, reverently be it student of nature, one who has informed himself concerning the rocks and the layers of them which underlie our soils, has attention called to some lofty and magnificent bridge. There is a great arch spanning a chasm. In this arch he discerns two rocks
to

same time, spoken, study God.

firmly cemented together.
color

They

differ,

perhaps, in

and

in texture.

He

looks upon them, and declares that one belongs

to a period of the past, say the Eozoic,

and the other
thou-

to a later, say the Mesozoic.

One was made

TRADITIONAL SOURCES.
joined together very firmly in one
structure.

51

sands of years before the other, yet here they are

The

man

does not have to get powder, or other explosive,
its

and blow up our noble bridge, with
that they have been fitted together
ingenuity.

wide arch, in
art

order to identify these different stones, and declare

by human

and

He

does not have to say that the builders

of the bridge

stones of different periods in their arch.

were dishonest because they joined the If the Lau-

rentian stone and the Jurassic stone are in the arch,

and and

if

it

stands secure in spite of their conjunction,

fulfills its

purpose, the

man

does not destroy the

It might indeed appear to him that the arch would possibly have been better built with stones of the same period, but the bridge is what it is, and he recognizes and states the

bridge by his geological statements.

fact.

The Bible
tion.
it

stands before us as a literary construcintelligent person as well

Every

knows

that

a construction as that men builded the bridge. The Bible was built out of materials in the form of traditions. Some of these traditions are older than
is

and yet they are wrought together in the same structure, and those things which did not originally belong together are made by the historian to stand together. Now if we seek to identify these various parts and analyze the
others, belonging to different periods,

Bible, the fear seizes the

mind
;

of the timid that the

Bible

being torn to pieces but the Bible will not be torn to pieces. It long since took the form which it will doubtless maintain as long as the earth lasts.
is

There is, however, something which will doubtless happen, and that is a change of opinion about the Bible. There has happened a very great change of

52

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

opinion about the earth, and the stars, and the relation

The old heavens have passed away, and the old earth, if we speak in Certainly the earth has not the language of poetry. changed so much as our ideas of it have, and our ideas have changed in a way most profitable to us. We can employ the powers and forces of the universe far betI think it must be the ter than our fathers could. same with reference to the Bible. Matthew Arnold says this " At the present moof the earth to other bodies in space.
:

ment two things about the Christian surely be clear to anybody with eyes in
is,

religion
his head.

must

One

that

men cannot do
it

without

it

;

the other, that they

There are many reasons why they cannot do without it, and certain reasons which are now rising into prominence why they cannot do with it as it is. Among these latter is the fact that
cannot do with
as
it is."

the Christian religion, as
in

it

has been professed, joins

an

artificial

unity those things which have no real

or vital harmony.

We

have one of the parables of

Christ to the effect that a

man who

hears his sayings

and does them not is like one who builds his house upon the sand the house falls down when the storm comes. The parable has a wide application. It is precisely what our Christian religion has done, and is still engaged in doing. It has claimed to have an infallible revelation from God covering the facts of creation and the history of the people of Israel. It has demanded of its adherents that they accept for truth those things which common experience either
:

denies or

is

doubtful about.

It has attached

an im-

portance which they do not deserve to the confused
traditions of

a people whose inspired thinking was
all of

provisional,

and almost

whose ideas are revised

TRADITIONAL SOURCES.
by
the
later experience.

53

The

result is a dubiousness in

mind

of

intelligent

people concerning the vaIf that religion

lidity of the religion of Christ.

com-

pels us to believe that contradictory things are not

contradictory, that seven

is

the same as two, and that
it is

the impossible has happened, then

doomed

to

go
is

down

in proportion to the rise of rational intelligence

but the foundation of the real religion of Christ
not of such incoherent material.
the confused
It does not rest

on
of

and primitive

traditions of a people of

whom Jesus God through

said that they
their traditions.

made void

the

word

main line of illustration of work of the sacred historian. One may select at random, from numerous instances, illustration of the unskillful method of the editor of the Old Testament Scriptures. A code of laws seems to have been given the Israelites in the desert, upon their flight out of Egypt. Some account of that we have in the second book of the Bible, the book of Exodus. But a fuller exposition of the laws appears in the book of Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Bible. It
Let us return
to our

the fallibility of the

has been supposed always, or since the Bible has been

read by the people, that this fuller expression of the
laws of Israel was written by Moses, and only a
later than the account given in
little

Evidence has arisen that some of the laws contained in the book of Deuteronomy were devised long after the time of Moses. It may be that these laws were many or most of them devised hundreds of years after the flight of Israel out of Egypt, and it may also be that some of them have no historical basis whatever. We will note that there grew up in Israel, in later times, a great hatred of other nations, and of some

Exodus.

54

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
This feeling expressed

other nations in particular.
itself in

riod.

some of the laws and usages of a later peIt was assumed by the historian that Moses

gave these laws, yet it is curious that the law-abiding people near the time of Moses acted as though they had never heard of these laws. For instance, there
a law against any fellowship with the Ammonites " An Ammonite or a Moabite and the Moabites shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord even to the tenth generation shall none belonging to them enter into the assembly of the Lord forever." But in the days of the judges, which was not long after Moses, a Moabitess was married by one of the chief personages of a certain locality, and no word of disapproval seems to have been uttered by any one. Indeed, this Moabitish woman was the ancestress of This is a mere incident, to the great king David. be sure, but it is one of many which shows how the book of Deuteronomy was composed, of how diverse elements, and how widely some of its parts are separated in time. If some future historian of the United States were to tell the incident of the murder of a certain Boston man by a professor in a medical school, and were to add that this professor was punished by electrocution, it would be open to the critic to show that electrocution became a law in the State of New York long after the Parkman murder, and that the
is
:

;

historian mistook a law of

New York

for a

law of

Massachusetts.

The work
cal work.
flaws.

of the historian

We

was not accurate historihave a history containing most serious

These frankly exhibit themselves to anybody and by their existence two things would appear to be demonstrated first, that

who

will look at them,

:

TRADITIONAL SOURCES.
accurate history
of Christ
;

55

is

not necessary to the real religion

second, that the traditions which include

accounts of miracles, such as the changing of rods into serpents, the standing of water " upon an heap " in
the bed of the Jordan to admit the passage of Israel
dry-shod, the standing
still of the sun, and the like, do not furnish us with the substance out of which a real history can be made. All that we can know by them is what the people of old believed in regard to such things, and how easy it was for the most improb-

able stories to

command

assent.

Meanwhile the Bible, which contains the religion of Christ, and that other religion upon which the religion of Christ was founded, while it becomes less and less to us a book of history or of science, will be likely to become more and more a book of religion and of the development thereof in the thoughts of men.

VI.

LEGENDARY ELEMENTS.
Ezra the Old Testament canon. We have seen that the work of Ezra, or some contemporary, was of a more general It may be said that the Old character than that. Testament made its appearance in the world for the
that
scribe
is

Tradition has favored the idea

to be credited with the formation of the

first

time under his hand.
historian creates history.
;

No

His imagination

is

not employed in devising facts

he takes the facts as

he finds them, and brings them together, not into a mere mass, but into an organic whole. History is not like a catalogue. It is not a list of things which have happened ; it is not a heap of stories it is a kind of body, instinct with life. In that body the past speaks. The history is wholly made of material already in existence, not evolved from the inner con;

sciousness of the

historian.

The

historian

chooses
this,

and According to his best judgment, he finds the relations of the facts, which experience has
and prepares
his material.

He

condenses

enlarges that.
supplied.

He may

not always get the right relation.

The

he possesses the more liable will he be to go astray. The result of his work will be a conless skill

nected tissue

;

a

real

fabric,

woven

together.
it

|

No
it

man

has ever yet written a perfect history;

will

be long before such a history can be written.

If

LEGENDARY ELEMENTS.
were written,

57

it would not be a mathematically exact reproduction of facts as they occurred ; for that would

be no history, perfect or imperfect.
Perspective comes in the
really as in

work

of the historian as

the art of the landscape painter.

The

Chinese painters give a very faithful picture of details. The Chinese artist's fisherman is undoubtedly accurate, and the boat which he paddles. The mountains
are good and the representation of water and all the
like
;

but the Chinese painter

is

most faulty in per-

spective.

That

is

to say, his fisherman will be about

as large as his mountain, and the fisherman's boat would never be able to get through the mouth of one of his rivers. The artist undoubtedly proposes to do ample justice to the man and his boat we must be able to see the features of the man, and the cracks and knots in the boat but that necessitates making the man and the boat so large that the rest of the landscape is thrown into fault thereby. It might be
;

;

.

better, for the

purpose of
is

art, to

make

the boat

by
a

one

little indefinite

stroke of the brush, and the
in history-making.

man
is

by another. So it work of high art.
that
it

That

What we
;

require
it

in history is

shall be a picture

that

shall not be

an endwith no

less chain of stories of particular individuals

Ezra wished to put Israel's which it stood, in a setting of past events. The setting was now felt to be necessary. The law of right conduct must be traced, and through the mazes of genealogies, legends, creationhymns, and tales of heroes he traced it. When we require of him that his history shall be authentic even to the beginning, as history, we require too much. Our scientific teachers tell us that the young of a
attention to perspective.
truth, liiat truth for

58

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
is first

The young and afterward a young something else. The young child is like the young human race. It has its life and its experience, but of this
species epitomizes the history of its race.

frog

a young

fish,

experience
Its earliest

it

can give very

little

account in after years.

months are real enough, but when the child, grown up, undertakes to tell the story, there is a point where definiteness begins. Behind that point, all is indefinite. Of the months succeeding its birth Then there arises some it has no memory whatever. one incident which makes sharp impression upon the child's mind, perchance some little matter of domestic discipline, or some beginning of a moral percepIt is at that tion, and that is retained in memory.
After a while which makes an addition to the small historical stock. Later a more closely connected view of incidents, and acquirements, and the like arises but the early things will forever be shrouded in the mystery of infancy. So it is with the human race. For a long time after the race is born, as a human race, it has no history which can be told. Then incidents come which are made much of. These are out of proportion to the
point the historical material begins.

something

else occurs,

place accorded them.
the myth.

children explain things.

They are explained in the way Thus arise the legend and

What
is

is

true of one portion oftthe hu-

man
light

race

true practically of

fought between one tribe

seems to
is felt to

all. There is a battle and another. The daybe protracted beyond its usual length.

be to enable the victors to pursue their Thus grows up the legend legend of a flood of the standing still of the sun. which is so great that it covers the whole earth with
victory

This

more thoroughly.

A

LEGENDARY ELEMENTS.
its

59

rises above the tops of lofty mounwhich destroys all living things, except the marine, has for its basis some disaster in the

waters,

and

tains, a flood

shape of a

flood.

v

Which

actual flood, however, does

not rise above the tops of the mountains, and does not cover the earth, and destroy
all

land

life.

Such
the
first

incidents, built
all

up

into such legends,

adorn the

pages of

the

first

attempts of

men

to tell about

man's infancy. As becomes more discriminating. Its historians grope patiently in the mass of the early things, and confess that we are ignorant of the actual occurrences in the childhood of the world. ^ In the legend they recognize a basis of incident which made impression upon a time, so that it was pushed forward into prominence and embalmed in the myth. This brings to our view something of importance, namely, it is the duty and privilege of a child to learn by experience, and to outgrow its earlier and more The same duty becrude interpretation of things.
things, or the things of
it

the race grows older,

longs to the

human
it

race.

There are many
or other hold

intelligent persons

who somehow

to be a sort of duty to believe, or to

profess belief of things which their sober and trained

judgment refuses
that

to accept.

They do not proceed

in

way with

reference to the practical affairs of

life,

but only with reference to religion. Thus their religion becomes a sort of invertebrate religion, a religion which has not real stamina, and sturdy, independent uprightness. It is never safe to tamper with

the truth and accept fables.
fables,
it

is

safe to recognize

make

use of them as fables.

Wherever you find the them as such, and to It is not safe to call them

the facts of history, because in so doing one becomes

60

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

careless about the truth of a thing.
self

He

renders him-

incapable of adhering to the truth through evil report and difficulty. It is held to be an act of piety

by some
even

to believe every statement

made

in the Bible,

should transpire that the statement could not be true, taken in its literalness. Pious men deny
if it

the discrepancies in the Bible genealogies and other

accounts.

They start with the proposition that the Bible contains no error of any sort, and then they hold to the proposition in the face of the plainest evidence.

Now

they do themselves a moral damage, and

are acting impiously.
religion unsound.

There

is

a lack of candor and
root of

truthfulness in them, which

makes the very

Let us consider for a moment the martyrs.
fession.

A mul-

titude of heroes have died rather than live a false pro-

Such stout honor redeems our race. They have faced the beasts of the arena, and the fires of
persecution,

and the

loss of friends

and

of all things,

in order to be true to their convictions.

Such men

were not well informed, but so far as their information went, they did strictly abide in their truth.

A

had broken in upon them in the progress creation, and that light they welcomed, and of God's embraced, and stood by. Their fellow-men crucified them, or burned them, or tortured them, or flung them
certain light
to the lions.

Whenever a man
will
it is

obstinately
it,

stands

against the light, and

none of

stand against God, for

down.

It is

God who
It is

builds

God new

he takes his who pours the light
ages upon the ruins
increasing revela-

of old ages.

God who makes

tion of himself

and his truth, as time goes on. Professor Sanday quotes from the Table Talks of Luther " Melancthon, discoursing with Luther touch:

LEGENDARY ELEMENTS.
ing the prophets,

61
'

who

continually boast thus,

Thus

saith the Lord,' asked whether

God,
4 :

in person, spoke

with them or no.

Luther replied

holy, spiritual people,

who
;

seriously contemplated

holy and divine things
in their consciences,

therefore

They were very upon God spake with them

which the prophets held as sure

and certain revelations.' " 1 It is a reasonable view, and of great consequence. For all men who studiously contemplate any of the things of God in any department of his creation will be not separate from, but closely in line with God's revelation. It is thus the revelation has been made from time to time. Thus and not otherwise Johann Kepler thought God's thoughts over after him. Others have seen the light of his truth in like manner. (Jt has been complained that the religious world obstinately opposes the advance of truth in the world. Modern astronomy had to fight for its life, and geology had its struggle for existence. Modern biology has been compelled to fight its battle. Why? Is it because men, as men, are always opposed to progress ? Is it not rather because religious men and men of the Bible have been opposed to the new theories ? The new astronomy was contrary to the Bible, the new geology was opposed to Holy Writ, and biology does not harmonize with Moses. Religious people were afraid of the light of new discoveries. The Bible proceeds upon the general theory that the earth is flat and the religious world said to the discoverers that they must not prove the earth's rotundity It was not a question of truth, but of what the Bible was supposed to say and what the Bible said was to end all dispute. We have learned
;
.~

;

1

The Oracles of God.

Preface to the second edition.

62

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

surely that the earth

is not flat. So much light God, through the astronomers, who contemplated his truth, has set shining among us. The truths of geology and of biology are each a light God sends to us. By rea-

son of a false notion of the nature of the Bible

many

have

set

God's light at defiance.

It is a strange thing that

men

should have used the

Bible thus obstructively, and fenced out God's light that is, however, precisely what they have with it
;

done, and are more or less continuing to doT) Jesus He boldly revised the law and the prophets of Israel.

learned from them their truth, but he brought forth new The upholcU truth, and was thus a light in the world.
ers of the sacred traditions were roused to great

wrath

by

his conduct.

They spoke

of

him

as a blasphemer,

while he on his part told them that they refused to come to the light because they preferred darkness.

The who

severity of the reproof justifies itself.

Any

person

prefers the statements of the Scriptures to the

knowledge which now enlightens the intelligent world shows the same preference for darkness which characterized the defenders of the old faith.

We
reason
to lay
if all

talk of the Scriptures as sacred.

why we

should so speak of them, but

it well to heart, and it mankind could once grasp the thought, so making its way, that what makes the value

There is a we ought would be a bright day
late in

of the

anything extant among us is the The really and truth, not the error, they contain. Now truth is no mere eternally sacred thing is truth. rock-like and stable substance, but it is a growing
Scriptures or of
plant. It is apprehended, not by those who love statements for themselves, but by those who love truth

To

those

who

love truth for

its

own

sake, nothing will

LEGENDARY ELEMENTS.
stand in the way.

63

will have if it is words of the wise, long spoken, stand in their way. They will not permit the traditions of the past to hinder the truth which walks

The truth they

procurable.

They

will not let

to-day.

We make a far-reaching mistake
to

when we

attribute

anything more than properly and naturally belongs to it. The Israelites took trees and lopped off the branches, and then drove the trunks into the ground about their altars. They are called " groves " in our

common

version

of

the

Bible.

Really these were

emblems Ashera, and the goddess Ashera represents the " female side of the beneficent and fertilizing sun-god." These wooden posts were only wooden posts. They had grown as trees, under the kindly influences of nature, but when men had wrought their devices upon them, to make them signify something more than trees, they fell into that curious
of the goddess

something we have learned to

call idolatry.

Under
It is

the influence of the sun, the trees do actually grow,

put forth their leaves and the buds and
right
set

fruit.

to

recognize the fact, but

when the
is

trees are

up around the

altars to receive the worship of

man-

kind, they

make

for idolatry,

which

confusion.

LThere

is

a more subtle and refined idolatry to which

book is set up to our Christendom is no stranger. be our infallible guide and God's speech to us. What the book declares in any portion of it is to be taken to
be God's truth for us. To inquire further or to doubt is held to be an evil, involving a distrust of the Most High. That is attributing to the Bible more than belongs to it. More than could possibly belong to it, for is not the book a device of men ? It grew in men's
thoughts, through the illuminating influences of the

A

64
Spirit of
less

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
God, no doubt.
fit

These thoughts, more or

appropriate to their time, have been extended or
that structure of revelation in

diminished so as to

which we find them. Pillars of stone were
borders of Israel.
of

set

up

in various places in the

It is perfectly right to
:

have
the

pillars

stone
is

erected for certain purposes
of a

common

memorial nature. There were some who thought of these stones as There were simply memorial and nothing more. others who regarded them as the abodes of this or that deity. These last attributed to the pillars that which did not and could not belong to them, and were idolaters. There are beautiful images of stone and bronze erected in the streets and parks of cities. They serve for the most part a memorial purpose. They are so far superior to the images worshiped by heathens, that a heathen visiting London, for instance, might be powerfully moved to fall down and adore the mere statuary of the place. His mistake would lie in attributing to the work of art somewhat more than he ought. It might be to him, if he were far down in the ranks of heathenism, the abode of a deity. There is nothing to be complained of in the images, nothing whatever. It is well to have monuments as memorials of great deeds and great events, but they ought to be regarded as memorials.
purpose
of the Jews, at least,

The Bible is a memorial, a monument, the very
literary product of ancient times.

best

There are blemishes in it. It tells us of the thoughts of men of an early time. These men were strongly influenced by the higher motives through which God blesses our humankind. These higher were in struggle with all sorts of lower motives, but the motive of righteousness came

LEGENDARY ELEMENTS.
to prevail

65

more and more. That is the crowning The book itself indicates to us that the higher motive emerged by slow process, painfully fighting its way against the opposition of manThe higher was always beset by the lower. kind. The grander apprehension of the best men, who felt that God is a Spirit, and must be worshiped, not in particular places and by particular performances and by a specific set of men, was continually obstructed and silenced by the people who wished to be idolaters. They must have their spectacular shows. They cared more for the dress of the priest than they did for the They cared more for the character of the suppliant.
glory of the Bible.
external order of the sacrifice than for the feeling of

Therefore it was that the man of the apprehension was compelled to complain that greater
the heart.

they drew nigh

God with

their lips, while their hearts

were far from him.

The Bible
detail, the

presents to us not only a memorial of the
;

grander apprehension
idolaters.

it

also gives,

and in tedious

We

lower and spurious apprehension of the have their version of God, as well as

the better version.

What

it

all

comes

to is this, that

we have we have

the responsibility of

making proper choice
it

for ourselves,

and with such light or lack of

as

of the things the Bible tells us.

When we

conclude, as many seem to have done, that in this memorial of the religion of the past God dwells when we are told, as we have been, that God is in the book, in the sense that God's Spirit in some way pervades its pages, so as to make it different from any other book, we are attributing to the book that which does not belong to it, and we are making an idol of it. Now the idolatrous worship of the book is the real

66

CREATION OF THE
;

BIBLE.

and this idolatrous worship book goes with much careless reading of it, and therefore a superficial knowledge of its contents*. But it is of that with which men have a shallow acquaintance, that they can make the most sweeping assertions.
religious sin of the time

of the

They can

say, if they

know nothing about

the facts of

the case, that there are no mistakes in the Bible.

They

can say with great confidence that all its prophecies have been fulfilled, or, if not, that they will be fulfilled. I think we discover that those who know the most about anything are apt to talk about it in somewhat

guarded terms. The wide-sweeping statements which we are accustomed to hear and read about the Bible are the most untrustworthy of all statements, because they show a lack of knowledge. There are in the historical portion of the Old Testament two sets of national traditions regarding the government of Israel. In one of these we read that under stress of peculiar circumstances King David purchased The king a field and a threshing-floor of a Jebusite. wished to make a sacrifice, and he proposed to have it no mere cheap sacrifice, made by another man, but by himself. Wherefore, although the man offered the oxen of his threshing-floor and all the place to the king to use as it might please him, the king declined the
gift.

So

far, in the

main, the stories agree, but as to

the price paid they totally disagree.

In one account
six

we

are told that David paid the

man

hundred
fifty

she-

kels of gold, of silver.

and

in another that

he paid

shekels

It is true that the
first

men named

in this trans-

action seem at

glance to be different men, but the
are two
If a

circumstances
stories of

make it most probable that there

one event.

man

characteristic of the careless

method and the extravagant, that
declares, in the

LEGENDARY ELEMENTS.
there are no blunders, and

67

he

may
is
is

explain

it is

in

if a blunder is shown him, some manner, but the object of

the explanation

to fortify a notion of the Bible

which
object

becoming more and more untenable.

The
to

to maintain that the Bible is infallible, or

without even the slightest error.
the uncreated.

That attributes
:

the created thing the quality which belongs only to

God

is infallible

men

are not, and

The Bible is the work of men's hands.") It is the work of their thoughts, and their and God works imagination, and their consciences
the Bible.
;

men wrote

unceasingly in the most enlightened consciences, and

most consecrated imaginations, and in the most men so as to give an increasing revelation of himself and his glory ,c\ Another thing. The inaccuracies of the Bible, those very things which lie plain upon the pages of the book, are in respect to things of no practical moment. It concerns us no whit what David paid for
in the

true thought of

a

field.

It does concern us that

David repented
of

of

evil designs,

and made

his effort for righteousness.

Whether Moses was a descendant
that a law of God came to " contemplation upon holy

Abraham, or an
;

Egyptian, really does not concern our character

but

very great interest to us.

Moses through his serious and divine things " is of The revelation came that

When we to come. worship the means of the revelation, by calling it inerrant, as the phrase is, we foreclose the farther revelathe revelation might continue
tion

we might be

receiving.

time, for our
time,

own

right conduct
settled

For the problems and influence

of our in our

we need not a

formula of the past, but

speech with

God

in the living present.

VII.

PKOPHECY.
prophecy has come to mean more than its The prophet was God's speaker at first, but afterwards came to be one who could foretell the future. Ability to speak for Jehovah seems to imply an ability to look into the mystery of the future and disclose it. If one is in the counsels of Jehovah, knowing God's mind, it is not difficult for him to perceive what shall come to pass but it does not necessarily follow that one who knows the mind of God in respect to some things is also informed in respect to all things. It not only does not follow, but it is absurd. There is not a living person, whose intelligence is at all developed, who does not know something of the mind of God. There is no one to whom the world does not express something, and something which is true. All persons know of the alternation
original significance.
;

The word

of

day and night, of seedtime and harvest, and of ten

thousand other cosmic facts and arrangements. These things disclose an order and an intelligence. may not be able to give a very good or sufficient account Of that intelligence, or of the order which it testifies to it is a fact that no one can give a sufficient account of

We

;

creation.

Yet, in so far as

we

discern order and intel-

ligence in the cosmos,

we

are let into the
limited.

mind

of

God
know

but that privilege
see the

is strictly

Those who best
likely to

meaning of present things are

PROPHECY.
most of the future.
not a supernatural
present.

69
of the future
is

The knowledge
gift,

or at least

it is

no more a

su-

pernatural gift than the knowledge of the past or the

writers, perhaps the

In the Bible we encounter a prominent class of most prominent of all, known as
prophets.

the

Soothsayers,
all

necromancers, witches,

medicine men, and

the like belong to the history

of all tribes of men. Astrologers consult the stars and necromancers the dead, and medicine men go through various frenzied performances to gain some knowledge of the future. These persons attain influence in their tribes and become chiefs and priests and prophets or sages. Israel, while it had its soothsayers and necromancers and astrologers at various times, and possibly in some abundance, presents us

with the vision of a higher

class.

this class is higher is chiefly that it is

The reason why more sober,

more reasonable, and more
ness.

solicitous for righteous-

It is with the prophets

who spoke

to Israel,

and

who wrote out

their addresses afterward in that perto this day, that

manent form which has survived

we

Before them we have confused and contradictory traditions with a large
begin the study of Israel's history.

admixture of myth. With them we seem to arrive These prophets of the at the solid ground of reality. beginning of Israel's reliable history do not spring There are intimations of into existence all at once. the presence of prophets in the time of Samuel, that There appear to is before Israel became a kingdom. have been communities or groups of them. These
groups we may call " schools of the prophets." And possibly they were like certain communities of monks

70

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
and some of which were These men were known or inspired, and were prob-

flourishing in later times,

devoted to specific objects.
as "

men

of the spirit,"

ably subject to ecstatic visions.
time arose an
official class,

holy things, and not without result.

They contemplated Thus in due

connected with the govern-

ment or with the
were authorized
tions
prises.

There were some who and who gave their predicconcerning the outcome of wars and other enterpriesthood.
to speak,

Others commanded a hearing, whether belong-

ing to the recognized prophetic class or not.

They

were the real, as distinguished from the official prophets. These uttered their warnings and admonitions simply because they had something to say, and were determined to say it. Perhaps one of the first of the prophets who wrote his predictions was Amos, who flourished a little later than the time of Solomon. He prophesied against Damascus and its sins, against Gaza, Tyre, Idumaea, Ammon, and others, and finally against Israel. He seems to have predicted the downfall of all these. His prophecies have been justified by events for none of the cities and families against whom he spoke remain, except Israel. Amos uttered his prophecies at Bethel, which was at that time the centre of worship of Israel. The chief priest at Bethel sent word to the king of Israel to inform him that Amos was forming conspiracies against the kingdom, and that the land would be utterly unable to bear his words. Finally, the priest bade Amos go out of the " Thou shalt no longer land and live in Judah. prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king's sanctuary." Amos answered, professing to be no prophet, " I was not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I
:

> A^ao^

W

voJl

^^

PROPHECY.

71

was a herdsman and a gatherer of figs. And Jehovah took me from the sheep, and said to me, Go prophesy to my people Israel." This is the man who,
while disclaiming the prophetic
office,

claimed the

prophetic

gift.

phet
will

may

His theory of the work of the probe gathered from these words, "Jehovah

do nothing without revealing instruction to his Nothing more clearly sums servants, the prophets." up the idea which the genuine prophets had of their own service. Jehovah would as surely reward iniquity, Of that there was no as pain would follow a bruise. doubt in any true prophet's mind. Israel would fall, as Amos declared, nay, in effect was already fallen. At one time he declared that Israel should never rise, but the warning of the catastrophe would surely precede the event.

By

such words as these we acquire a knowledge of

the field or province of prophecy.

Jehovah

will

do

nothing without revealing instruction to his servants,

we judge these words fairly, and we shall escape that false notion of prophecy which has had so wide a following at various times. The herdsman was attending to the duties of his vocation, and meanwhile meditating upon the state of things in his nation, and in other
the prophets.
If
in their connection,

nations.

He was

alive to the

degeneracy of the times.

%,He saw, as plainly as he could see his flocks, that calam-

would follow such degeneracy. Because he saw it, Jehovah was calling him away from his flocks to go and tell Israel of the woes which should
ity

he

felt that

surely overtake the nation, unless

it

changed.

He
is

who

sees

things of importance to his time, and

deeply convicted of them, leaves his flocks or whatever of personal interest might withhold him, and goes
as his conscience, that
is

to say, as

God,

calls

hiim

72

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
The scope
of the prophet thus called
is
is

strictly

limited.

He

not a fortune-teller.

He

does not

so

much

foretell future events as describe the certain

It was characteristic of the Israelitish prophets to declare in a thousand ways that Israel would be rooted up out of its home and

result of present tendencies.

carried away. It was the way of conquest in those times to transfer a conquered people from their soil.

power afterward it found them but that mode had not yet come. It was easy, therefore, for the prophet to see that Israel would be deported, when it should be conquered. Amos, livIt is notable that a great military

arose which left the conquered peoples where
;

ing before the rise of the great Assyrian sovereignty,

saw that Israel would be conquered by some of the surrounding powers. have already seen that Israel's writers were

We

clearest in their history in the times nearest themselves that as they went back into the past they became involved more and more in that inaccuracy
;

which belongs to lack of knowledge. It may be said was of things imminent, not of things afar off. If they had their dreams of far-off times in the future, they were of such stuff as our dreams of the distant future is commonly comthat their best view of the future

posed.

We

ourselves are not without our prophets,

who

foretell us the future.

widely read of modern books

Perhaps one of the most is the dream of Mr.

Bellamy.

It is

a forecast of the time when socialism

shall be realized

and
it

shall bless the world.

Only we

are very sure that

obvious reasons.
of

can never come to pass, and for The chief value of the prophecy
at all lie in the picture of

Mr. Bellamy does not

the end of the twentieth century.

That

is

merely a

PROPHECY.
piece of literature,

73

and of an
is

attractive form.
it

The

great value of the book

that

calls attention to the

It may not even be a correct undoubtedly is an imperfect view, view of them, but it is like a voice of warning which startles us,

present tendencies.

and

sets us considering

how we may

possibly

amend

matters.

I do not see

why

it

should not be precisely as true

now

as

it

was

in the days of

Amos, that God

will

do
is

nothing without revealing instruction to his servants
the prophets.

Yet the

limit of the prophetic gift

to be soberly admitted.

It is simply impossible for

any

finite
it

intelligence to

pry far into the future

while

is

not only possible, but of

common
of

experi-

ence, that the best instructed

men

any age are

precisely those

who know something
it

of their present,

and by
future.

light of

are able to discern the near-by

We

may

conclude,

reasonably,

that

if

a

prophet had arisen in Israel
the discovery of a

who could have

foretold

new

continent, to be called America,

and by the energy and skill of a man of one of the western nations, and at a time corresponding with our year of the Christian era, 1492, then we should have
prophecy is of a miraculous nature kind of fortune-telling, and that by its aid we
to hold that

—a
may
con-

look far into the future
find

;

but we find no such definite

instance of the scope of the prophecy.
is

What we do
its

the prediction of the downfall of Israel,
its

quest by

enemies, and that prophecy was fulfilled.

There were wise men in our own land half a century ago who predicted the trouble that was rising already concerning the slave. It was given to one statesman to declare, upon a memorable occasion, that between the system of slavery and freedom there is an irre

74

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

pressible conflict. Yet neither the time nor the manner of the issue of the conflict could be predicted until the time was at hand. God gives us intelligence

of things which are shortly

coming

to pass.

Not

to

the foolish, and not to the indifferent, but to those

who

love the

ways of truth and hate

evil,

God

gives

intimation of his work before the
plished.

That is what Amos tells what wide experience corroborates.

work is accomus, and that is also
it

Our
concern

intelligence

is

of such sort that

does not

with the immediate present. It takes hold upon the past, and lays its grasp upon
itself altogether

The wise can always foresee things, and do foresee them. We plan ahead, and we heed the warnings of experience, but if any one projects his imagination too far into the future, and attempts to declare the things which shall come to pass remotely, he is sure to fail in his predictions. Or, if he attempts to use the language of precision, and to describe in detail some far-off events, he will surely
the future.

blunder.

There
Israel.

is

a considerable diversity in the prophets of

It is in the study of this diversity that

our

scholars have arrived at the degree of

probability,

which amounts practically
of Isaiah, in the Bible,
is

to certainty, that our

book
)

not the work of one prophet.
in the

Both

of the prophets

who were

main the authors

of the

book of Isaiah are to be distinguished very from the sort of prophet who wrote the book of Ezekiel. He is more given to ecstasy, and to the
clearly

Assyrian method, than others of the prophets. He entertains hopes, which lead him to predict things

which have not come

to pass.

We may be

quite sure
in very

that the things he foresaw, some of

them

PROPHECY.
detail, will

75

never come to pass.

He

tells

us that the

Jehovah came to him, to take one stick and write upon it, " For Judah, and those of Israel who were associated with him." He was likewise to take another stick and write upon that, " For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and those of Israel associated with him." Now it is plain that by these two sticks, thus named, is signified the two kingdoms into which the original one kingdom of David and Solomon had been Such an allegorical object-lesson teaching separated. was not uncommon in Israel. The people would ask the prophet what the sticks meant, and he would tell them that they meant the divided houses of Israel. The sticks would become one and so after all the years of division, the two houses would be united again. Of one thing we are very certain, and that is

word

of

;

that this union has never taken place.

I think

it

is

admitted, even by the most conservative of students,
that Israel or

Ephraim remained distinct. After the Babylonian exile, it seems that much of that portion of Israel which is represented by the name Ephraim

became merged in other peoples, and lost its identity. Now, if we were to analyze the feelings of the prophet, considering his tender patriotism, and his pious trust in the words of those who had gone before him, we should see that it seemed a very word of Jehovah to him that the sundered Israel would be restored, and that it would take up its neglected mission to the nations, and perform it faithfully to the end. The old twelve tribes, the tribes of the promises which

had recently been rehearsed in the ing exiles, would rise, as out of death in which they had fallen, exceeding great army, enough to

ears of the return-

the very valley of

and would be an
conquer the world.

76

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

This was the prophet's hope, and it became his prebut it was not fulfilled. To-day there is no reason, except the prediction of the prophet, to hope
diction,

It were as well to expect that and the Tyrian, Carthaginian, or old Roman hosts, would rise out of the dust of long-past centuries. Let us glance at it a moment. If there were ten tribes, partly deported to the distant East, and if these peoples became assimilated with other peoples, taking their language and their customs, intermarrying with them, then our tribes become " lost tribes," lost by assimilation with foreign nations. It is easy enough to see why it would not require a long period for them to become indistinguishable from others, because they would not be Israelitish after a few generations. We are accustomed to the idea that

that

it

will be fulfilled.
itself,

Assyria

omnipotence does not make impossibles possibles. To cause a race of human beings, now, or at some future time inhabiting the earth, to revert to ancient conditions, to take the mixture of races, already accomplished, out of their blood, is certainly one of the impossibles, if any such there are in all the wide domain
of nature.

An

impetuous and almost frantic zeal has been
in the heart of

awakened

many

prophetic enthusiasts

with reference to the fulfillment of prophecy.

They

have searched the Scriptures and found the predictions, and having already in mind the fundamental
proposition that the Scriptures are all and altogether

from the
Israel, the

infallible

wisdom

of

God, they have pro-

ceeded to predict the regathering of scattered and lost

coming of the Son of

Man

in the clouds

of the sky, the rapture of saints, the confusion

condemnation of the disobedient.

and Thereby the study

PROPHECY.
of the prophecies of Israel has been discredited,
fallen into disuse.

77

and

The

richest product of

Israel's

wisdom and experience has thus become
arises

for the

part of no value to the modern religious world.
ulous gift, that

most This

from the notion that prophecy is a miracit is apart from the laws which govern thought and judgment, and that the prophets
could view the far-off future
are the
;

whereas the prophets

men who

perceive the tendencies of things,

and the inevitable consequence of the decline of morals and of responsibility. They can look into the future, but they are governed by the laws of thinking. They
are as liable to
as other

make such mistakes

as Ezekiel

made

men

of insight are to go astray in their esti-

mates of things. In respect to prophecy we force our belief beyond the bounds of reason when we consider that men of any age can predict a remote future, except in the most general features of it. It is open to any prophet to maintain the ultimate conquest of good over evil, but to tell us in what form the good shall display itself, or how the conquest shall be effected in detail, is simply beyond that finite knowledge which prescribes our limitation. If ever an infinite being were to be among us, as one of our kind, which is an impossibility to thought, since such a being would not be then the most remote future might be of our kind, spoken forth as though it were the present. By reason of a strange perversity we have been in the habit of ranking the prophets of Israel, earlier and later, with the astrologers and fortune-tellers. We have credited them with an ability which transcends mortal powers. We have read into them more than they could have meant, and we have not dared to

78

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
when they required
revision.

revise their conclusions

Out

of such perversion have arisen the fanaticisms

which came with the Reformation, the vagaries of the fright produced by Wilthe fifth monarchy men, liam Miller in the forties of this century, and the various earnest but unreasonable fancies of those who have been looking for the end of the world. Even now, and from the seat of one of our principal institutions of learning, warnings are sent forth that the world is on the verge of ultimate disaster that the mercy or grace of God is to come to a pause within a few months, and that we have fallen upon the last times. There is much to justify these extravagances in the words of the prophets, especially some of the prophets, but there is nothing to justify them in the idea which the best of the prophets had of their own province. They were called from other occupations, not to predict

;

the fall of empires not yet risen, but to warn people of
the impending consequences of their faults.
their times,
it,

Because

they devoted themselves to such a work, adapted to

meaning of word of Jehovah, unto which we also do well that we take heed, as to a light shining in a dark place. The prophetic gift is not an abnormity. It is more or less put in use in every age. It was exercised by Lord Bacon when he wrote his " Novum Organum." Plato was a prophet when he wrote the " Republic." Washington was a prophet when he wrote his farewell letter. Every great statesman produced by time has been a prophet, or he could not have been a great
and
therefore, in the deep

to other times as well, they have given us the

statesman.
as
is

The

gift of forecast is as natural .to
:

man
supclass

the gift of history-making

the one gift
cases.

is

plementary to the other in

many

To no

PROPHECY.
the prophets

79

were the people of Israel so deeply indebted as to it was not the priests who strove to keep Israel in the paths of Jehovah and his righteousness. It was not the scribes of a later period, it was not always or often the kings, but the prophets, those speakers for Jehovah, whose words move our hearts these were the men of God, the after so long a time men of the Spirit, the men of the forward look. According to the opening words of the Epistle to the Hebrews in our New Testament, God is said to have spoken, not through the priests and the elders or They foretold, bechiefs, but through the prophets. fore they came to pass, the consequences of righteous;

;

ness and of iniquity.

(We

have the assurance that Jehovah would do

nothing without revealing instruction to his servants, the prophets. That seems to hold true all along the
track of
foreseen.
all ages.

The wisest and They have enjoyed the

best of

men have

revelation in their

own reasons of the doings of Jehovah. They have been able to forewarn the people, and often to avert the disaster which surely follows unrepented wrong. Their function has never been to tell us of the end of the world and of the coming of the Son of Man
in the clouds of heaven,

when every eye

shall see him.

That has come through no prophetic gift, but through the frenzy which good men fall into when they transcend their powers of true thinking. We have to distinguish true prophecy from false; we have to apply the test which the prophets themselves give us when they undertake to tell of the things which must shortly come to pass. Under whatsoever figures of beasts and trumpets and horns and crowns and other

phenomena they speak

to

us,

they

mean

that

we

80

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
it

some guidance for our conduct, If any of them transcend that purpose, and serve to gratify our morbid
shall get out of

some help

to our betterment.

curiosity touching the hidden things of futurity,
shall

we

be neither the wiser nor the better for their imaginations. It is the true prophet who says to us,
"

Come,

let

us reason together.
to

Though your

as scarlet, they shall be white like wool.
evil

and learn

do well."

It is

sins be Cease to do the false prophet

who awakens our morbid
final ruin.

terrors

by pictures of the

crash of elements and the downfall of the world in

VIII.

FROM GODS TO GOD.
\JThe ground of authority is not the same to a child and a man. The child is under tutors and governors,

who dogmatize.
child because
it

A

statement

is

of

authority to a
person.

comes from an

official

The

parent, the tutor, or the appointed guardian stands in

a relation of authority to the child, and the child is told by this competent person as truth. It is therefore of the very last importance that teachers and parents should teach children, not
accepts what

and not ignorantly, but with great prudence and wisdom. When, however, the child becomes a man, the childish things are put away. Then things are not accepted upon the authority of any one, but That is the main moral difsimply upon their merit. between child and man. The ground of auference
carelessly,

thority has shifted.
it

As

it is

with the individual, so

is

In the childhood of the race things are accepted upon the dogmatic assertion
with the race as a whole.
of
it

some persons in authority. As the race advances, more and more shifts its ground from the dogma and the speaker to the merit and the thing spoken. The shifting process is one of disturbance and of anxiety. It must needs come, otherwise the race is kept in its childhood, and does not reach its true estate.

To

the child portion of the religious world, authority

is still

vested in official persons, and their

dogma

is

82

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

accepted with as good a grace as may be. The adult portion of the religious world is at this very day
stoutly

making

its

revolt against the child

method

so that, to the casual

and

superficial observer, all au-

thority seems to be set at defiance.

To
is

those

deeper into the phenomenon, there
a shifting of
respect to
its

evidence that

who look we

are witnessing in fact no dissolution of authority, but

ground.

In other words, the child

begins to show signs of manhood.
says it?"

The

child asks, in

any commandment, or proposition, " Who The man asks, "Is it true?" The child
its

has reference to

parents, tutors, or guardians, the
If

man

has reference to the merit of the matter.

we

observed this distinction, to which I think the Apostle Paul helps us, great confusion, and possibly much heat

and anger, would be avoided.
children, men's things for men.

Children's things for

At

the

ought to be the aim of
state of adolescence.

all

men

to help the

same time it growth of

children, so that they should not remain in a perpetual

Not a few

religious people are greatly disturbed

by

the discovery which begins to

Moses did not write the
to his authorship.

dawn upon us that books which we have ascribed
The
child

We

have been told that with the

going of Moses
for Moses.

all

our religion goes.
is

who

has not been able to put away childish things cries

The man who
dogmatist.

beginning to put away

childish things is less disturbed at the departure of

Moses

The work which has been other work, by whomsoever Not so to a done, must rest entirely upon its merits. child, but precisely so to a man. The authority of
as a

credited to Moses,

and

all

the Bible taken altogether, as a great literature of
the religious past,
is

coming

to rest entirely

on the

FROM GODS TO
merit of
burial
it.

GOD.

83

This perhaps were a rash proceeding

four centuries ago,
its

when

the Bible was dug up out of

hands of the people. growth has been going on since, more or less apprehended by the more adult portion of the Christian communities, which makes necessary the shifting of To a child, that is, the unthe ground of authority. developed religious intelligence, the saying of a prophet is the end of doubt. The prophet is recognized as God's appointed tutor and governor. The law is recognized as the schoolmaster, whose word is final. The man forgets the tutor and the schoolmaster, and
into the
institutes inquiry concerning the reasonableness of the

and put

A

thing taught.
the world, that

So

far have

we come

in the creation of

men are beginning
is

to assert themselves,
is

and the childish mind

of the world

shocked.

My

proposition

that the prophets of Israel have

a merit which makes their words superior to those of

and diviners of other nations. These words are put into the mouth of Moses, addressed to " For Israel before they came into the promised land all these nations whose land thou shalt inherit, they will listen to omens and divinations, but Jehovah has not permitted thee so to do." " Jehovah shall raise up
the prophets
:

to thee a prophet of thy brethren, like unto
shall

me

;

him

ye hear." While Israel did have its diviners and readers of omens, and other such, by the time of the golden age of prophets there had grown up' such
a prophetic work as no other nation
experienced.

How
ples,

far different this

work was from

that of the di-

viners

and soothsayers, or

fortune-tellers of other peosee.

one has only to read in order to

The

diviner

does not care to preserve a record of his work. wishes the public favor and applause.

He

He

wishes to

84

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
much
of.

be consulted and made

Now

it

transpires

that the prophets of the golden age were those

who
;

were not made much of except in an unpleasant way and, characteristically, they were addicted to forfeiting the public favor. They must have seemed to the simple minded of the people to be always engaged in tearing down something. They were precisely that class of malcontents which will not let well enough alone. I speak now of the golden age of the prophets. That age was reached through various experiences. Sometimes the prophets appear as belonging to the popular party as against the tyranny of the kings. (They stand for the welfare of the people, and for their liberties or rights. Afterward they take stand alone, each prophet independent, speaking against whatsoever meets his censure.

The diviner is a patriot. He is ready to prophesy against other peoples, but he does not prophesy against He wishes the success and glory of his own people.
his

own

people.

It

was not

so with the prophets of

They stood against the evils of their own They loved righteousness better than the people. They devoted themselves, first of all, and fatherland.
Israel.

most of

all,

to producing righteousness.

In that they

shine in the firmament of history more than the seers In them, therefore, Israel has a of other peoples.
real glory.
It is because of

find a'foundation.

them Christianity could But what did the prophets wish to

do

ple.

They wished to improve the religion of the peoThey appeal with Isaiah to the reason and conThey endeavor to show that there is science of men. only One who is entitled to our worship and service, one God, Jehovah. The people had never attained They believed that there were other that conception.
?

FROM GODS TO
gods This
beside
is

GOD.

85

Jehovah,

and often worshiped them.

evidenced by the words of the prophets them-

Jeremiah complains that Judah has as many cities ; and over and over again protest is made against the gods worshiped in the borders of Israel. What the prophets wished above all things to do was to abolish the idea of many gods from the minds of the people. They resort time and again to
selves.

gods as

the device of sarcasm, speaking of the artificer

who

takes a block of wood, and with part of

it

he kindles

a fire wherewith to cook his food, and of the remainder he makes a god. The prophets ask whether the gods can help their devotees at a pinch whether there is any eye fashioned by the carpenter which can see, or
:

any ear which can

hear.

They

at least could not en-

dure the degrading, the besotting worship; because such worship always goes far to subvert the natural
ideas of righteousness of the devotee.

The prophets
than

of the golden period proclaimed them-

selves boldly the servants of the

whom

there was

no other.

One God, Jehovah, The gods of the

heathen were but fashioned things. There was no divinity nor even sense in them. Jehovah was righteous
the Creator
;

the rightful Sovereign of

Jehovah

is

not a visible being,

— therefore not a being

all.

Next,

to be represented in

to proclaim

any visible form. This was harder and gain the assent of the people to than anything else. \The absolutely invisible, to children or to primitive people, is the same as the non-existent.
Therefore the prophets of the golden period were accused of and persecuted for breaking down and setting at naught the holy things.

formers

They were the reand no reformers of any period have had a more difficult work than they,' Their work was no;

86

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
make them

thing less than to eradicate the primitive and stronglyrooted polytheism of the people, and to

what they never had been,
the Bible,

— the people of Jehovah.
of Israel, the

Before the time of historical criticism, as applied to men have been in the habit of ascribing to
pure

Abraham, the reputed founder

monotheism which really belongs to a much later age. It has been supposed, naturally enough, that from the time of Abraham on, Israel was essentially, or with some breaks and relapses, a nation of Jehovah, believing in one only God. Later evidence seems to run counter to that supposition. The polytheistic word which serves to indicate a plurality of gods was embedded in the Hebrew language. While it became used afterward to apply to one God only, such was
not its first use. Abraham, according to the traditions and legends which came down to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, while he may have had glimmerings of the truth of one God, permits us to see that like the best men of his time he was powerfully influenced by the polytheistic notions and practices of the day. fHe offers his son in human sacrifice. His successors
easily adopt the worship of the sacred bull.)

seems to be intimated by the prophet Amos that was not a worshiper of Jeho" Have ye offered to me victims and sacrifices, vah.
It

Israel in the wilderness

O house of Israel, forty years in the wilderness ? Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Raephan, the images of them which ye made for yourselves." Is it not possible, is it not even probable, that the Israelites, before they became established in Canaan, were almost altogether idolaters, and that their very tabernacle was an idolatrous contrivance ? It accords with the truth that a pure

FROM GODS TO
monotheism
is

GOD.

87

of late beginning in the annals of time.

The

true worshiper of Jehovah, such an one as Isaiah

the prophet, looks
altars as

upon the sacrifice of animals upon no requirement of Jehovah, but as an abomfull

ination to him.

^Nothing springs
people's

grown

into being.
it

Israel's
all

true religion, that which distinguishes

from

other

and makes Israel in reality the people of Jehovah, came to be through long periods of time. We do not fully see what it was until we reach the later We cannot even tell what were the convicprophets. As Abraham is tions of the men of an earlier faith.
portrayed to
us,

he confuses

us.

time of Elijah and Elisha, prophets
times,

Even so late as the who did not write
It is

or care to preserve the records of their works and

we

find a degree of the

same confusion.

our most expert scholars to determine with anything like certainty whether these prophets were
difficult for

opponents of certain forms of idolatry, as we certainly

know

their successors were.
to the

Whatever may have been antecedent
the prophets of the golden period,
it is

work

of

manifest that
It

they boldly and with a measure of success founded
the real and final religion of Israel.

was against

every obstacle in the way of popular prejudice and of
persecution that they proceeded to establish their reSo bitter was the opposition to ligion of Jehovah.

them that the memory
of the nation.

of

it

lasted long in the mind-

There was an almost complete gulf between the prophets and the people. The priesthood and royalty, and the people, often at war with each other, were at one against the handful of the prophets. It was to this memory of the peculiar mission of the prophets that Stephen appealed when he accused the

88
rulers

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
and people
of his

own time

:

"

Which
?

of the

prophets did not your fathers persecute
the prophets

"

The

per-

secution was unexceptive, and demonstrates that with

alone was the religion and service of

Jehovah.
people.

Accordingly, their work was to establish

their convictions in the hearts

and characters of the
to

Nothing

less

than

that.

their tribal god, but that did not hinder

Jehovah as them from Jehovah was their nabelieving also in other gods. tional god, and dwelt in their house, which they had built at Shiloh, at Dan, Shechem, and Bethel, and finally at Jerusalem. Moab had another god, and the Philistines other gods. These gods, too, were powerful, and might render help if properly approached. What the prophets undertook was to urge not only the supremacy of Jehovah, but to make plain that there is no God but the One that righteousness is not a variable thing determined by the character of
;

For a long time the people had held

local deities, but is fixed.

\Moreover, that

it

belongs

to conduct.
life,

To

the prophets good was the same as

and

evil,

same as death. " Seek good and not that ye may live and so Jehovah shall be with
evil the
:

you, as ye have said."
It is evident that the people at various times wor-

shiped images which represented Jehovah

to them. After the partition of the kingdom, it is related that because the people went up to Jerusalem to worship, Jeroboam, the king of Israel, conceived the necessity of having them stay at home and worship. Because if they continued to go to Jerusalem his own kingdom would of course be lost. He made two young bulls of

gold,

and placed one

in Bethel
:

and

said to his people

" It

is

too

and the other in Dan, much for you to go

FROM GODS TO
up

GOD.

89

Israel, which to Jerusalem ; behold thy gods, brought thee up out of the land of Egypt." It is not doubtful that these two images represented the one tribal or national god, the one who had delivered their ancestors from the bondage. There are intimations in the period of the judges, as well as long afterward, that Jehovah was worshiped in the form of the golden calf or the golden bull. There is a similarity between that worship and the worship of Moloch in either case human sacrifice was probably practiced. So late as the time of the prophet Micah human
:

sacrifice

was in vogue,

for

Micah

protests against

it.

Abraham is represented as ready to sacrifice his son and is commended for that readiness while hindered
from carrying out the project. In the time of the judges, Jephthah vowed a human sacrifice to Jehovah, we are told, and sacrificed his own daughter, because she was the first to meet him on his return from an expedition. Samuel hewed Agag to pieces before Jehovah, and David proposed to sacrifice the seven sons of Saul. These instances suggest, as do the works of Micah, that human sacrifice was practiced, and to a late day, by Israel, as it was by other nations. Moreover, the rite of circumcision appears to be the remnant of an older practice of human sacrifice. In brief, the survival of abominations of cruelty, and that in the name of the religion of Jehovah, awakened in the prophets
the purpose of a radical reformation.
cruelties
")

To

abolish the

was

to a large extent their aim.

Thus we

perceive that their notion of righteousness was not a

mere

abstraction, or a

mere assertion of righteousness
itself

in Jehovah,

which by

passes for nothing, but

it

was a
all

positive

announcement that the things of

their

religion which involved cruelty to

man

or beast were

wrong, and must be stopped.

90

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
One cannot help dogma of
its

thinking, in this connection,

how

the cruel

a remorseless Jehovah, inflicting

ever continuing pain upon his creatures, has tenaciously held

ground in modern times

has been the experience of

and how bitter many who have attempted
;

to reform that cruelty out of the religion of Christ.)

We have reached the point where we may say that was the aim of the prophets to establish humanity, or humane conduct and feelings, in the religion of the people. Of course feelings of humanity came earlier
it

than the time of the prophets, but these feelings did
not dominate the religion of Jehovah until their time.

Jehovah, like the sun-god and like other gods, was supposed to demand sacrifices of various sorts. He

was supposed to demand the cruelties of other heathen worship. In process of time the prophets came and declared that Jehovah requires simply the humanities. Notice the words of one of the prophets which diMicah puts the words into the rectly affirm this. mouth of an Israelite. " Wherewith shall I come before Jehovah, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old ? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or with ten thousands of streams
of
.

oil ?

Shall I give

my

firstborn for

my
;

transgres-

body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good and what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God ? j In such a saying as this we reach high-water mark of the prophetic utterances. Jehovah requires of man none of the bloody sacrifices, requires none of the offerings of one's substance, which were so scrupulously made. He requires the humanities mercy and
sion, the fruit of
:

my

FROM GODS TO
justice.

GOD.

91

walks humand the inhumanities that he departs from Jehovah, and misrepresents Jehovah in the world. It has been supposed, and the idea has been most zealously supported, that Jehovah gave to Israel a law of sacrifices. That by observance of this law the man could set himself right with his offended God. The sacrifices of the altars have been held to symbolize the sacrifice of the Son of God as the offering for Probably sin and the refuge and Saviour of sinners. in the most recent times there is survival in much strength of the very notions against which the prophets proceeded. We note this survival in the words
It is in the humanities that

man

bly with his God.

It is in the sacrifices

of formulas of prayer.

In so

many words men

wor-

ship

God by

Christ.

pleading the merits of the sacrificed The question asked by the prophet, " Where-

with shall I come before Jehovah, and
before the high

bow myself
it.

God?"

is

answered, not as he an-

swered it, but as the Israelite answered form of language, containing some idea at

In a

least,

men

bow themselves

before Jehovah, bringing forward the
It is supposed

sacrificed Christ.

and asserted with
If at this late

great stress that

God

requires that.

day, wherein the humanities have been greatly devel-

we fall short of the real religion of the we need not marvel at the difficulties which
oped,

prophets, beset the

prophets in carrying out their sublime aim.

For

was
just

their

aim

to bring about a pure worship,
sacrifices,

—a

it

worship not of altars and not of

but of

and humane feelings and conduct. That was pleasing to Jehovah all else was not pleasing to him. While all the prophets did not attain the same high standard of religion, while some of them counte;

92

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
sacrificial
it

nanced the

forms of worship which belong
said of the later prophets

to polytheism, yet

may be

that they furnish, and they exclusively, the necessary

foundation for the Christian religion which was to complete their work. Not that Christian religion
hopeless confusion by which it has become split, the Christian religion of dogma, but the religion of the humanities, the religion of mercy and justice and a humble walk with God. \ Were we to inquire into the development of religion in the world we might divide it into three great stages First, the stage of fetichism with remnants abiding to this

which

is

confused and shows

its

the large

number

of sects into

:

The first is human attainment. The second is an advance, but leaves much to be desired. In this stage are many gods gods of nations and families
day.

Second, the stage of polytheism.

the lowest stage of

;

gods fighting each other in the warfare of their worshipers
other.
it is
:

this is the

stage of sacrifices,

human and
that

The

third stage, of which
is

we may also say

the last,

the stage of the unity of God, one and

only one God. This being is not to be represented in thought as the golden bull or in any image whatsoever.

This

is

the being
justice.

who demands
This
is

of us the humanities,

mercy and

the being in whose image
religion

we

are being created.

Thus the Christian

presents to us not an unapproachable divinity and not
fest in the flesh

a nature-god, always to be propitiated, but God maniGod in man. God walks in the

humble and
prepared

and merciful man for that conception the prophets of Israel more than any other have
just
:

us.

IX.

THE LIMITATION.

The Jehovah

of the earlier Israelites

was

not,

and

have been, the same as the Jehovah of a more advanced period. The Jehovah of David was not the Jehovah of Isaiah. It is because the concepts of people change. In respect to all things which engage their attention there is a growing change of opinion but because of the conservative influence always in more or less force, the change of opinion does not go on uninterrupted. It is a stream frequently blockaded, and the result is that the changes of opinion assume appearance of violent
in the nature of the case could not
;

transition.

In

Israel's history

we note

as successive changes of

conception those revolutionary periods, such as the
escape from the house of bondage
;

the formation of

a kingdom under David

;

the disruption of the king-

dom

afterward

;

the Babylonian exile,

and

finally the

All of these changes strike us as being very great, especially the last. They seem to come suddenly. That is because
establishment of the Christian religion.
the process of change, which is as continual as the growth of a flower from the seed, was continually obstructed by the conservative feelings of men. Since the changes could not go in the form of an orderly progression, they came in the form of, or accompanied
by, national disasters or deliverances.

94

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

Now the prophets were certainly ignorant of things which Mr. Darwin could have told them. They did not know that all men rise, but do not descend, from lower ranks of life. They did not know what the
theistic evolutionist of to-day sees to

be highly credi-

what Mr. Darwin has shown him, progress goes on by successive changes or that all that as it was in the lower orders, so is it also with the higher orders. There were mollusks and there were
ble in the light of
;

fishes.

The mollusk

is

a creature far inferior in

or-

ganization to the

and yet God is equally the Moreover, each comes in its own creator of both. time first the lower, and afterward the higher from The prophets did not know this, I say. the lower. Nor did they need to know it but if those who had to do with preparing the canon of the Old Testament, and whose duty it was to give here and there a title to
fish,
: ;

a piece of sacred literature, or to indicate something in regard to its authorship, had known it, they would not have made the mistake of attributing to one period that which belongs to another.
imperceptibly, but they do steadily go on.

Changes in our concepts of things go on, sometimes These

changes make different periods, as really as successive changes in animal structure make different periods in have means of the history of the physical world.

We

identifying the periods.

The

historical critics of *the
;

Bible are like the geologists

they have discovered

how

to place the relative time of customs, laws, pro-

phecies,

and the

like.

It is quite safe to say that the prophetic

books of
regards
to be

the Bible do not hold a very high place in the interest
of the average religious

man

of to-day.

He

them

as sacred books, to be sure,

and therefore

THE LIMITATION.
reverenced, but he does not read

95

them with interest. Their language is foreign to his understanding. Their imagery seems to him far-fetched. He knows a great more about the parts of the Bible which tell him He knows of Samson, the Hercules of the Bible, and of Moses, the Nestor, and of the patriarchs. The story of Ruth is attractive to him as a pastoral. He reads the book of Esther, and bedeal
stories of heroes.

cause it is in the Bible he thinks it is a sacred book, (jf he were to find it outside of the Bible, he would feel no great regard for it, but might even look upon it as Luther did, a book unworthy of respect. Luther thought the story of Esther ought to be destroyed. The prophetic literature, which is the really valuable literature of Israel, he cannot force himself to take a lively interest in, as a rule.

On

the other hand, the enthusiastic study of pro-

phecy is peculiar to certain sects, and to those who look In the prophets for a speedy downfall of the world. there are many things upon which the imagination seizes, as importing the end of the world and the minor catastrophes connected therewith. The study of prophecy is therefore generally understood to imply an interest in the " last things." We cannot help feeling that there is almost always an element of fanatThose who have entertained icism in such interest. the ideas of the modern expositors of prophecy, and

who have been thrown out

of mental balance thereby,

and have tormented themselves and others with visions of an impending sounding of a last trumpet, with the summons to appear before the judge, and receive sentence, etc., have made prophecy seem to us an enAll this misunderstanding and misapplication has been due to an
thusiasm, and an imposition as well.

96

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
Our
enthusiastic

uncritical study of the prophets.

have piled up texts on texts. They have made selection of passages, and taken them out of their connection, and have supposed these things all bore on the same subjects. Moreover, they have gone upon the theory that the prophets were men who knew something about the end of the world. more careful study would have assured them that the end of the world lies beyond the ken of any one, and that while some of the prophets seem to be talking about the end
teachers

A

of the world, they are in reality talking of the near
future.

We

have read the prophets

too,

without

much

con-

sideration of the time in which they respectively lived

Therein we have been unskillful and have suffered for it. Our scholars have done much can identify the to clear away these difficulties. periods more accurately. In our common editions of the Bible we find the short books of two prophets together. The first is Joel, and the second is Amos.

and spoke.

We

Upon
we
time,

consulting the small figures in reference Bibles,

see that these books were written about the

same

namely about 800

b.

c.

Of

course no dates

the text of the books themselves, any more than dates are written in the silurian rocks. The time of the composition of these books has been supposed to be identical. For some reason Joel was put first, and Amos second. If these books had been read in the light of history, and a careful study of history, it would have been impossible to put Joel first and Amos second. It is by the light of historical crit-

are given in

icism

we

find that

Amos

is

one of the very
his thoughts
;

first

of

Israel's

prophets
first

the very

perhaps of those whose actual words have come

who recorded

THE LIMITATION.
down
order,
to us.

97
to

If an attempt

had been made

have

the prophecies follow each

other in a chronological

list, and proband one of the for he spoke and wrote last would have been Joel, in the Greek period, more than two and a half centu-

Amos would

have headed the

ably the next would have been Hosea

;

ries later.

Joel wrote in a vivid style, and is supposed to have written explicitly about the " last days." In the Acts
of the Apostles he seems to be quoted as one
told the last days.
to read
It is therefore well

who

fore-

worth our while

he really does that. is a plague of locusts which devastated the land in his time. His description is at once that of a prophet and that of a
find
if

him carefully, to The immediate occasion

of his prophecy

poet.

The

pest

is
it.

like a fire,

moving on

to

devour

everything before

When

the locusts came, the land
their onslaught

was as the Garden of Eden, but after

the land was a wilderness, and nothing escaped them.

army, conquering, as by spears All of this, which would be plainly described as a grasshopper plague, he dwells upon and sees in it the devastations of Jehovah, who is offended with the people on account of their sins. The locusts make up Jehovah's army. " They shall run to and fro in the city they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses, they shall
like a great

They were

and chariots and horsemen.

;

enter in at the windows like a thief.

The earth
;

shall

quake before them, the heavens and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining and Jehovah shall utter his voice
:

shall tremble

the sun

before his army, for his
is
is

camp is very
;

great

;

for strong

he that executeth his word great and very terrible, and who can abide
for the

day of Jehovah
it ?

"

98

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

Here is a prophet who does not seem to be telling about future events, but about things then transpiring.

A

plague of locusts

time, or day,

— the day of

is

upon the land

it is Jehovah's reckoning with his people.
:

Jehovah it is who is cutting off all the green things from the earth, who is causing the crops of the husbandmen to disappear, who is taking away from the flocks and herds their food and instead of plenty
;

there

is

a famine.
of

In our own West, when the locust plague has come,

and the sun has been darkened by the vast clouds
the

enemy

;

when the farmers have seen

their toil

go

for nothing, everything destroyed as
if

by sudden blight, any among them were convinced that God is punishing the people for their sins, and that God has times of reckoning with the people, and if he were all the time watching the destructive march of the plague,

He

he could speak perhaps in the vivid language of Joel. could say that the Day of the Lord had come,

and that it was a very terrible day, " who can abide it?" This prophet Joel is not a prophet of woe. He does not dwell on the dark side of things, to magnify that. He says it is right for Israel to mourn, and to Then he raises the song clothe itself in sackcloth. He begs the people to mourn and lament of hope. He begs the priests, the minover their wrong-doing. isters of Jehovah, to put forth their supplications, and say, " Spare thy people, O Jehovah, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should use a

byword against them: wherefore

should

they

say

among

the people, where

is

their

God ?

"

For the

Gentiles would say of a people so plagued that their god had forsaken them, or that he was powerless to

THE LIMITATION.
avert

99

the

evils

thrust

power.

The prophet

feels that it

upon them by some greater has all come in retriIt is not a
his
it is is

bution for the vices and sins of the people.

time when Jehovah has gone away, but a great and
terrible day.

day

;

However, that
will also heal.

not the

end of
ance

it.

He who wounds
will

is had, Jehovah and will pity his people. and say unto his people, behold I will send you corn and wine and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith." The prophet foresees that Jehovah will drive the in-

If repent" jealous for his land " be " Yea, Jehovah will answer

vading army of locusts famished beasts of the
the tree will bear

off into the desert.
field will

Then the

have their pasturage,
full of

her

fruit,

the vine will flourish.

The

threshing-floors will once

more be

wheat,

and the vats

will overflow with the oil

and wine.
;

By
will

means

of

this

recovered prosperity the nation will

know

that

trust in Jehovah,

Jehovah is in the midst of her and serve him.

and

Thus far in this prophet we have heard nothing about the last times, but only about the times then
present.

There

is

the plague of locusts, which, in

the vivid feeling of the prophet,

makes the earth

to

quake and the heavens to tremble, and darkens the sun and moon. The destructive army of Jehovah, cutting off our food and making a famine for us, is
turning the light
the time?
itself into

darkness.
hopeful.

Who
He

can abide

The prophet
Jehovah,
will

is

hopes that

his people will repent of their evil courses

and turn

in humility to

whom

they have offended, and
restore them.

that

Jehovah

forgive

and

The

prophets of Israel, even those

who lament

the most

and seem

to be

Israel to follow

most impressed with the failure of and obey Jehovah, are yet hopeful.

100

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
to see in

They seem

they see one

Jehovah much more than a king who punishes people for their good, and

;

who works
betterment.

in his people

by

his Spirit

toward their
said in

So

Joel, after all that he has

the other strain, returns to the joyful and triumphant note, " Fear not, land ; be glad and rejoice,

O

do great things." In place of the famine consequent upon the locust plague shall surely come plenty, and the people shall be satisfied, and " ye shall praise the name of Jehovah your God that hath dealt wondrously with you." Then comes the song of Israel's triumph. It is in this song of triumph that the convictions of the later prophets spoke. Israel's God is no longer a tribal god, one among many powerful deities. Whatever he had been to earlier prophets, now at last the clear
for
will

Jehovah

conviction of the monotheist
is

is visible.

After Israel

restored, having duly repented of its sins
it

and

re-

turned to Jehovah and his service,

should come to

the fulfillment of exceeding great and precious promises, as the Apostle Peter said, " And it will come to

pass afterward, I will pour out of
flesh."

A few in

Israel

my spirit upon had enjoyed the peculiar

all

fa-

vor of Jehovah.

The

spirit of

prophecy did not be-

long to the people generally, but only to the devoted
ones who were persecuted

but all that should be Jehovah would pour out his Spirit upon young and old. Not only upon the free born, but upon the very slaves themselves. Every one should prophesy, young and old, bond and free. The great thought of the prophet is that Jehovah will put forward his people Israel to accomplish their
;

changed.

work.
his

He has not been able to reach the nations with judgments and grace because of the faithlessness

THE LIMITATION.
of his people
its fealty,
;

101

but with the return of the nation to

Jehovah would carry out his purposes. Then Jerusalem would become firmly established and in Mount Zion would be deliverance. For Jehovah dwells in Mount Zion, and from Mount Zion must go forth
;

the laws for all nations.
It requires

no violence

of interpretation to follow

the prophet's thoughts in a direction he himself has

As Jehovah had been dealing retributively, and for the purposes of correction and recovery, with Israel, so would he deal with all nations. As Israel had seen the sun darkened, and had felt the earth quake, by reason of its plague of the locusts so doubtless other nations should feel the same great trials, and be brought through the same straits, in order to bring them to seek deliverance in Jehovah, who dwelleth in Zion. Israel had experienced a great and terrible day of Jehovah, and other nations should ex" I will show wonders in the perience like wonders. heavens and in the earth, blood and fire and vapor of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come." Some of our prophetic expositors have seen in this the portents of the last day. They have supposed that' the moon would become blood red in the evening sky, and the sun black (how could the moon be red while the sun is black?), and that other signs of impending disaster and final ruin should preindicated.
;

sent themselves to the eyes of the watchful,
all eyes.

if

not to

Coupling with

all this, too,

the apocalyptic

visions contained in the

New

Testament, they have

warned us time and again of the dissolution of earthly affairs and the sounding of the last trump. Joel speaks of the locust plague which destroys

102

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

man and beast in the same terms employed to characterize later proceedings of Jehovah with other nations. That is, the turning of the sun into darkness and the moon into blood, etc. He tells us that Jehovah will gather the Gentiles into the valley of Jehoshaphat to plead with them. He will there reckon with them for their treatment of Israel. He will recompense to Tyre and Sidon and all the coasts of Palestine all that they have done. The reckoning of Jehovah with the nations, in the view of Joel, will take the form of a war of Israel with these other nations. And so he calls upon Israel to arm itthe food supplies of

among the Gentiles also to " Beat your plow-shares into swords and your sickles into spears " In those days of freself.

He

raises the cry

prepare for war.

!

quent wars, and when Israel was recovering its strength after the captivity, menaced on all sides by other powers, it was not wonderful that the prophet could foresee a coming strife. He was so full of the thought of
Jehovah's might, and of his promises, that in this
of Jehovah,

coming war he could see a great victory for the people and Israel should regain its old glory.

city of Israel's king should prove to be the city Jehovah: Jehovah should cry out of Jerusalem. He was the hope of his people in his might they should conquer. At last it would surely be proved that he to all men that Jehovah dwells in Zion In this is not merely the highest, but the only God. there is no hint of those last days of final judgment and destruction of the earth which our modern proThe prophet Joel's mind phets have seen so vividly.

The

of

;

;

does not concern itself with that.
achi.

Nearly contemporary with Joel is the prophet MalHe may, indeed, have been a little earlier. He

THE LIMITATION.
is

103

is coming and terrible day. The rise of this feeling concerning a day is not difficult to trace in the prophets. If we go back to those first of the prophets, Elijah and Elisha, those prophets who did not write, because writing was not much practiced in their time,

one of those who speak of a day that

to Israel, a fiery

but who did sharply rebuke the people for their evils, we shall find growing a sentiment in regard to Jehovah which became most prominent later. The nation was surrounded by powerful heathen kingdoms. There

were Egypt and Damascus and Assyria, and others. These powers threatened the peculiar people of JehoThe future of Israel was, therefore, very doubtvah. Would it be able to maintain itself ? Jehovah ful. was indeed very powerful. He had delivered them from the house of bondage and brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey. Why then were they threatened by those powerful competitors ? Why were they in danger of being carried off into captivity ? They found an answer to that. At least the prophets did. Jehovah was not only strong, but he was also just and holy. If the nation was to succeed, it must also be just and holy, for God would permit it to be defeated and carried into captivity, on account
of
its follies

and wickedness.
if

God

required certain

things to be done, and
surely

they were not done, he would
It

reckon with his disobedient servants.

come the day

of reckoning.

There would would be a day

of downfall to that people, of great trial

when
;

come.

God would
by

sit

as a refiner of silver

it did he would

try his people

sifting.

In
phets,

this country half a century ago, there

were pro-

somewhat

of the

same

sort as

Malachi,

who

protested that a terrible result would arise from a ter-

104
rible crime.

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
It

was a national crime, that of human them had chosen, he could have adopted the language of Malachi " Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven. The day did surely come, a most fiery day, as all of that generation can testify. Malachi was very sure that Judah would reap the reward of misdeeds, but also, like Joel, he was sure that the people would return to Jehovah, and that all the nations of the earth would have a great blessing because of Judah. " All nations shall call you blessed for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith Jehovah of hosts." Malachi, however, differs from earlier and
slavery.


1
'

If one of

:

!

far greater prophets in his views of the sins of the

He wished them to keep the priestly laws very scrupulously, and because they did not, he depeople.

nounced them.

Now the

first

Isaiah cared nothing for

those requirements of the priestly laws, but Malachi

was
as

in great offense because the people did not bring

and promptly pay them. He was angry, might have been, because they offered in sacrifice upon the altars the beasts which were not good for anything. He felt that was a direct
their tithes

well he

The people insult to Jehovah, as indeed it was. brought the blind animals, and the lame and the sick such things as they would not dream of offering to their governor but these they thought quite good enough for the altars of Jehovah. This so wrought
; ;

upon the feelings of the prophet, that he could see nothing but ruin and defeat and sorrow ahead, until they should repent. Can we wonder that a man, with
strong feelings, and loving Jehovah and his require-

ments, should have foreseen that the day would shortly

come when Jehovah would try all this neglect and contempt most severely, and punish it ?

THE LIMITATION.
It is evident to

105

any who carefully study these proupon them-

phets of the later period, that they were talking to

Judah

of the retribution they were bringing

selves for their sins.

Malachi
to

may have

supposed that

Jehovah would send Elijah
to

warn the people before
which he believed were He wished the

proceeding to extremities, but Malachi himself seeks

draw attention

to the laws

given to Moses by Jehovah in Horeb.

people to honor Jehovah by obedience of his laws. " Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there

may

be meat in mine house, and prove

me now

here-

Jehovah of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing."
with, saith

By

these latest of the prophets

we may perceive

that prophecy relates not to another world, and not to

the last days of this world, but to those things of im-

mediate import, which concern the people to know. When we read into the vivid language of Joel the
notions of last days,

we make him demit

his real office

as an instructor of the people, to be a fortune-teller for later age,

THE

FICTION.

In the development of literature, fiction has a promThe word " fiction " covers all that portion of literature which is invented, or mostly dependent on the imagination. Tales of all kinds, such as stories of the fairies, and fables, and parables, and all dramatic writings, and many poems, may be generally grouped under the head of fiction. We commonly use the word, however, in a more restricted sense, applying it mainly to the kind of books we call novels but it would apply to the plays of Shakespeare, the great poems of Milton, and the fables of
inent place.
;

-ZEsop.

Fiction

is

an early as well as an exceedingly

val-

uable part of literature.

It appears in the mytholo-

Greek dramas, in great poems, like the Iliad of Homer, and in all literature of the more popular sort. It may be within the bounds of reason to say that the most important part of the
gies of all religions, in the

world's literature, in
fiction.

many respects,
in that

is

the literature of

A writer

reaches a public more swiftly and

easily

and successfully

way than

in

any

other.

Long and
ject are

involved didactic statements upon any sub-

almost everybody.

no sooner uttered than they are forgotten by Arguments which have great final

effects in the experience of people are not received as arguments, but are reduced to a form more vivid and

THE FICTION.

107

dramatic before they conquer their way. Therefore, under that Providence which has to do with the flower
of the plant,

and the flower

of speech as well,

we

are

forced to accord a great place in the world's welfare

and

its intellectual

and moral growth
felt

to the literature

of fiction.-^x^^

Reluctance has been

about admitting the pres-

ence of fiction in the Bible.
that the character of fiction
If

Perhaps upon the ground
is

not clearly understood.

some ingenious person were to be asked a question by his neighbor, and were to invent the truth of his reply, in the most blunt fashion possible he would be
called a liar.

He

undertakes to deceive his questioner,

and bears
tells

false witness to his neighbor.

Or

if

a

man
own

stories of adventure, as
;

drawn out

of his

he asserts that he was in this and that battle, and conducted himself in a most heroic fashion, while the truth is he never saw a battle, his tales are works of fiction, but they are made with inpersonal experience
if

tent to deceive,

and he

is

a

liar.

When we

talk

of fiction in

literature

we never

mean anything
author of
is

of that kind, and
ill

we

are not in the

habit of attributing
fiction.

motives or dishonesty to the
writer of fiction

The

may

be,

and

held to be (provided his character and work warrant it), as thoroughly honest as the writer of the most carefully exact and unimaginative history. Victor

Hugo and Mrs. Stowe and George

Eliot

tell

us

which never transpired, as though they did That is the form in which they cast their transpire. thoughts, but no one need be deceived by it, and They they do not wish any one to be deceived by it. do not take the pains to tell us that Uncle Tom and In Jean Valjean and Adam Bede never existed.
of things

108
fact,

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
they
all

make them

as real to us as possible.

Yet,

in spite of the fact that they are imaginary characters,

and
I

the incidents imaginary also,
sure

we do

not com-

plain of deceit.

am

if

Bible better,

we knew the literature and spirit of the we should have no hesitation in finding
:

a plentiful element of fiction in it and having recognized it as fiction, we might proceed to get the truth For unless fiction be a vehicle of truth, it it contains.
is

either valueless or worse.
it

Its only rightful use is
all possible readers,

that

should convey to us, and to
it is

the truth

good for us

to

know.

We are told that David, the great king of Israel, committed a frightful crime. It would not be regarded such at the time, and was not so regarded by the king himself but there was one man, at least, who looked with abhorrence upon it. He proposed to tell the king his opinion of it. He felt that he could express God's opinion about it, and that it was his duty to do so. We feel that he was right to think so, but it was a difficult matter to deal with. It has never been very easy to go and tell great despots their faults one undertaking such a mission was likely to be deprived of all speech thereafter. So the good man invented a He prepared a fiction, as being the best means story.
;
:

of doing that particular work. He successfully accomplished the difficult mission by means of the little poor man had one lamb, a pet. story he invented.

A

He

derived
;

much

of the comfort of his life

from that

but a powerful neighbor, to whom had come a traveler, spared his own flocks, and took the poor man's lamb, killed it, and presented it to his guest for food. When David heard that story his anger was
pet lamb
kindled, and he swore that the

man who had done

that

THE FICTION.

109

wicked thing should die for it. Then the good prophet told him he was the man who had done that thing, It was a very skillful cononly in a far worse way.
trivance on the part of

Nathan

to invent that story,

he accomplished more in the way of truth and righteousness than he could have done in any other

and by
way.
j

it

man who had two
other prodigal.

In the same manner Jesus told the story of the sons, and the one was thrifty and the

The

story will last as long as

men

talk

and think, while the lesson given in the way of argument would have died out in a short time. It was a pure work of fiction and unquestionably Jesus resorted to fiction more than almost any other great
;

moral truths the argument of Paul to the Romans and the fiction of Jesus concerning the return of the prodigal were to be weighed
religious teacher.

He

gave to

all

guise and dress of fiction.

If the weighty

in

the

balance over against each other, the fiction

would be found to outweigh the other. We have been considering the way in which the historical portions of the Old Testament were made. We have seen that there is much of the history which could not pass for history, apart from its connection with the Bible. We have considered, too, how the prophets did their work, their aim in their work, and the fact that they were the great ethical teachers of the Jews but there was another kind of teaching, neither historical nor prophetic, which occupies a consideraThat is the portion of ble space in the sacred pages. the Old Testament literature which is in the form of
;

^

fiction.

as in

While fiction may be interwoven with the history, myths and legends, it more frankly confesses as in the book itself in other portions of the book,

110

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

of Job. Taken by all scholars, now, to be a dramatic poem, with a prose prologue and epilogue, it was earlier and generally taken to be historical narration. There is no entirely good reason why we should be more stupid about the Bible than about any other book. In fact, there is good reason why we should bring to the Bible a mind which has at least a little clearness. We ought to have just that sort of discrimination which will help us to distinguish between widely different kinds of writing. If any one had taken the pains to think about it he would not have dreamed that the things related in the book of Job ever happened not because they are miraculous things, but because that kind of writing has never been ap;

plied to description of actual events, described in detail.

that the

Yet the time book of Job

is
is

not far past

when

the opinion

not history, or fact, would have

Now

shocked the feelings of almost all religious people. it shocks no one, because it has become very evident that it is a dramatic poem. That has been ascertained by attention, by literary judgment, by commonplace discrimination. Educated persons have

tried to

make

economy

of the universe

out the place of Satan in the general by what is said of him in the

prologue to the book of Job.
into the presence of

The

sons of

God came

God, and along with them came Perhaps he is one of the sons of God, turned Satan. He roams around the earth, seeking who and bad. he may devour, but he finds time to come to the what gathering of the sons of God. He is asked if he has given attention to that very just man, Job. Yes, he
has noticed Job, but has no good opinion of him. Like all other men he is actuated by purely selfish
motives.

He

serves

God

because he can

make some-

THE FICTION.
thing out of
it.

Ill

If the reader has not the discernment

to discover the fiction

form of that

story,

he

is

sadly-

lacking in knowledge of most kinds.
of the real

The

characters

drama

talk in poetry.

Men

never do that in

life.

As

well might merchants set their sight

drafts to music.

In play, children

may sometimes
;

but this book Simply from the evidence of its contents to its character, it is understood by all Nathan intelligent readers that it is a made-up story. made up a story for David, as we have seen. Jesus made up a great many stories for his hearers. This is made up in order to convey a great spiritual lesson, and spiritual lessons are what we go to the Bible for. It seems to have taken us a long time to find out that a spiritual lesson may be as well conveyed in the litercarry on a conversation in rude rhymes
of

Job

is

intensely serious.

ature of the imagination

— that

is,

in fiction

— as in
The

any other form.
lessons.

Oftentimes

it is

the best form.
is in its

value of the Bible, taken as a whole,

spiritual

If it gave us the most unimpeachable history from beginning to end, if it portrayed all the future to us, and failed to inculcate spiritual lessons, it would be of the same value with any other book, of an unmoral sort. But its power, use, and worth lie altogether in its spiritual lessons. If these be conveyed in one form or another, it were well for us to perceive that the form of the conveyance is not of importance, and cer-

tainly not to be regarded as at all essential to the va-

book as a divine revelation. fiction, and for certain purposes it is not inferior to any other part of the Old Testament. If we get the lesson, or if we fail to get it, the imaginary Job is of quite as much service to us as if he were a veritable man among men.
lidity of the

Job

is

a work of

112

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
work
of fiction, as
If
it

we have seen, is a literary comes in the form of poetry, that is one method; if in the form of a tragedy, that is anif in the form of a historical novel, that is other simply another literary device. All these forms have long been used, and with great and good effect, and, as a rule, we know how to discriminate between the different kinds of literary method. When we look into the Bible, we ought not to lose our literary judgment we ought not to take for facts of history and biography the things which belong to literary device. This may be said to be true in respect to the book of Daniel, which occupies a place between the major and the minor prophets. It has proved, I will venture to assert, a far more readable part of the Bible than It is those portions which precede and succeed it. cast in an attractive form and conveys high lessons.
expedient.
;

A

The

first

portion of

it,

say the

first

six chapters,

narrate the experiences of a

Jew named Daniel

in

Babylon.

He and

three of his companions are chosen

from the captive Jews to reside in the king's palace. These four are said to have been chosen because they were handsome men and expert in knowledge they were scientific. They were to be taught all the
learning of the Chaldeans.
It is further

said that

Daniel, in particular, was skilled in dreams and visions.

As we

progress in the story,

we

see

Daniel

becoming eminent above
spiracy to destroy him.
his

all his fellows.

The nobles
into a con-

of the court are jealous of him,

and enter

He

has a habit of opening

window toward Jerusalem, and praying to God They make this a ground of complaint. They cause a law to be made by the king forbidding any person to make petition to any god
three times a day.

THE FICTION.
or

113

man

except to the king.

The

conspirators get suf-

ficient
it

proof of the praying of Daniel, and present

to the king,

who, for the sake of the law, orders

the offender to be thrown to the lions.

God

closes

the mouths of the lions, and Daniel

is

rescued.

His

three friends are put into a furnace because of their

disobedience of the orders of the king

:

they receive

no harm. Daniel interprets the dream of the king and the handwriting on the wall, while all the soothsayers and magiciaus of the city fail. It is natural that such a man should rise to great eminence, and certainly that he should have a commanding iafluence with his own countrymen. It is very natural that his contemporaries, and those who came after him, should mention him and his extraordinary deeds in their

Yet the great leaders of the restoration, and those who wrote the records of their nation, make no mention of this very eminent man. We are entirely sure that if any one should undertake to write the history of the United States from the beginning, he would not leave out of his books the story of Hamilton, nor that of General Grant. He would be less likely to do it, if he were a contempoBut the rary of either of these distinguished men. Jewish historians have not a word to say of this wonderful man, Daniel, who, according to the book which bears his name, was by far the greatest of the Jews
writings.
at the time of the captivity.

All the others sink into

insignificance beside him, yet neither Ezra, to

whom

we

are so greatly indebted for the Bible, nor Nehe-

miah, nor Zechariah, makes any allusion to him.

The prophet Ezekiel mentions
those

his

name, however.

Ezekiel has a theory which differs from that of

who wrote

the story of the destruction of Sodom.

114
According

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
to that story, if there

men

in the city,

had been a few good Jehovah would have spared it. But

Ezekiel declares that if the very best of men were in a wicked place, that city or place cannot escape destruction. The good men can deliver their own souls
only.

This
it

is

the

way the prophet

puts the case

"Though
were in

these three

men, Noah, Daniel, and Job,
righteousness,
saith

(the place), they should deliver but their

own
of

souls,

by

their

the

Lord

God."

The

three

no difference it makes whether they were real characters or the characters of fiction. Once again Ezekiel mentions Daniel, and in a way to indicate that such a character was somewhat
excellence.

men Of course

were therefore representatives

familiar to the people of his time.

He

speaks of the

king of Tyre as pluming himself upon his wisdom. He felt that he was as wise as Daniel and as capable of understanding the secrets of dreams, and the like.

From
Daniel

these allusions,

we

find

some reason
fiction.

to think

is

not simply a character of

Perhaps
to

we should come near the truth if we supposed him be a real personage, who was made the hero, so
speak, of an historical fiction long afterward.

to

We
very

are by no means unfamiliar with that sort of literary

device

known

as the historical novel.

And we

clearly recognize the

book of Job as belonging

to that

sort of writing, in a poetical form.

There is great reason to suppose that the book of Daniel is a historical fiction in prose form. It is asserted

by some rather conservative writers that the

majority of the leading Christian scholars of the present day hold that the book of Daniel was not written
in the days of the exile, but about the middle of the second century B. c. There are many and sufficient

THE FICTION.
reasons to adopt this view.
of Daniel
is

115

It appears that the book one of the supplementary writings, not originally included in the Jewish collection of the prophets. Neither Daniel nor the book is mentioned by the Son of Sirach, who wrote about two hundred years B. c, and gave a catalogue of Jewish prophets and great men. Moreover, there are certain Persian words in the book as well as Greek names of musical instruments which were not in use at the time of the
exile.

It is

Jew during

a reasonable supposition that some patriotic the Maccabean period say about one

hundred and

fifty

years before the Christian era

resorted to that sort of literary device later

known

as historical fiction, taking a real character as the
basis of it, a man whose name was known to some, though certainly not to all the Jews, and that by this means he conveyed to the minds of his struggling countrymen the teachings of Jehovah, important for them at? that time. In order the better to effect his purpose, he introduces visions and interpretations, for the encouragement of his people in their great contest for survival

and

liberty.

Old Testament, seems to give minute predictions concerning the future. It seems to lay out the plan for the succession of the great worldempires, as the Assyrian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek,
all
is

Now among

the books of the
it

that of Daniel

peculiar in that

and the Roman. As a matter of fact these four great kingdoms did succeed each other in the order indicated in the book of Daniel. It has been held to be one of the most convincing proofs of the infallible inspiration of the Bible,
that a

man was

able to tell beforehand

how kingdoms

116

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
fall.

should rise and
character, far

In

all

the other prophetic books,

seen, are of a general than circumstantial, and resting upon the basis of profound principles. In Daniel, however, the predictions seem to have been literally fulfilled. If this book was written after the four great kingdoms had actually risen, then we have no difficulty in understanding how their succession could be described. There was no prediction about it. Edmund Burke wrote beforehand the coming French Revolution but that was prediction based upon principles of foresight understood by the author, If some one in our own day were to write a historical novel, dating it from the day of Burke, and making it a story of Burke and if the writer of it were to tell all about the brilliant career of the first Napoleon, and the succession of Presidents of the United States, as having been foreseen by Burke, the device would be

the predictions, as

we have
ethical

more

;

j

;

similar to that of the writer of the

book

of Daniel.

No

one would think of attributing dishonest .motives It is as much a method of instruction to the writer.

and as legitimate as that employed
in the

in the literature

of letter writing, or the literature of the

drama

(as

book of Job), or the ordinary novel of the

better class.

The book of Daniel has been misunderstood, and made to teach an important error, because readers
have mistaken the time and design of
its

composition.

The nature

of inspiration itself has suffered great mis-

representation, partly because this particular book has

not been recognized as a literary device
that respect

;

but our Chris-

tian scholars are helping us to rectify our errors in

by assigning

to the

book of Daniel a

date long after the exile, and even after the rise of
the

Roman

power.

THE FICTION.
I

117

no better way of showing the peculiar value and the commanding influence of the book of Daniel, its adaptation to the needs of the Maccabean times, than by a quotation from Ewald, cited by Dean Stanley in his " History of the Jewish Church," and by Dr. Gladden in " Who Wrote the Bible ? " describing the critical state of the Jews " Everything had reached that state of extreme tension when the ancient religion upon its sacred soil must either disappear from view completely for long ages, or must rise in fresh strength and outward power against enemies thus immoderately It was at this crisis, in the sultry heat embittered. of an age thus frightfully oppressive, that this book appeared with its sword-edge utterance, its piercing exhortation to endure in face of the despot, and its promise full of divine joy, of near and full salvation. No dew of heaven could fall with more refreshing coolness on the parched ground, no spark from above alight with a more kindling power on the surface so long heated with a hidden glow. With winged brevity the book gives a complete survey of the kingdom of God upon earth, showing the relations which it had
of
:

know

hitherto sustained in Israel to the successive

great

heathen empires of the Chaldeans, Medo - Persians, and Greeks, in a word, to the heathenism which

Rarely does it happen that a book appears as this did, in the very crisis of the times and in a form most suited to such an age, artificially reserved, close and severe, and yet shedding so clear a light through obscurity, and so marvelously captivating. It was natural that it should soon achieve a success entirely corresponding to its inner truth and
ruled the world.
.
. .

glory."

The book

of Daniel in a peculiar degree sprang

118

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

from the necessities of its time. It took the form that would produce the widest influence in the shortIt, more than any other portion of the Old est time. Testament, is the prototype of the political and social
fiction-literature of

our own day.

XI.

THE POETRY.
<.

A

is

poetry.

considerable portion of the Old Testament This is more notable because the New

Testament contains little poetry except that which is quoted from the Old. In the Old Testament poetry abounds, not only in the specially poetical books, but
also
in

of the

the historical and prophetic books. One most accomplished and eminent of modern
scholars

Hebrew
first

declares

his

conviction
is

that the

chapter of the book of Genesis

poetical in

form.
teuch.

Short poems are interspersed in the PentaThe book of Job, the Psalms, the Song of

Solomon, are unmistakably poetical. The Proverbs, and the Lamentations are also poetical, though in a slightly modified way. Perhaps one would be entitled to say that the prophecies themselves are prose poems. Now the fact that so large a portion of the Old Testament is poetical ought to have weight in helping us to determine more accurately The oldest of the nature of the volume as a whole. the Greek writings are said to be poetical. We may go farther than that. There is a poetical flavor, if one may use the expression, in the orations and counEcclesiastes,
cil

talks of savage chiefs. In modern colloquial language we are about as far from poetical as possible. We have a plain, direct, and almost mathematical use of language. ex-

We

120

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
we
hear.
If

pect definite meanings in the papers
talk

we do not

get

it

we read and the we are dissatisfied.

We
An

have time for poetry only in our leisure hours. attempt to express the difference between that

clear-cut method of speech to which we more and more by the advance of science and the old poetical method might issue in something like this, namely we express small and definite ideas in our prose, but poetry expresses great and indefinite ideas. Poetry is the tongue of the man whose thought is too great for any other sort of statement. ) Whenever we attribute to the poet the small and definite idea which belongs to another kind of speech we do him injustice, and inevitably fail of his mean-

direct

and

are driven

:

ing.

Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Browning
tial

see poten-

greatness in small things.

the greatness, too,

and

rejoice

They help us to see in it. The unpoeti-

cal soul sees great things only in bulk, or expressed
force.

Our
They

poets do not measure with a tape line
:

the dimensions of small things
nite.

they are not so
the

defi-

are impatient

of

man who

in

the
ordi-

primrose sees nothing but the primrose.

The

nary man glances at the primrose and sees nothing but the definite form and color thereof. The man of science does much more than that. He pulls the plant of it out of the ground and carefully examines the root, the stalk, the leaves, the petals, and all the parts of it. That is his province. He may go even farther than that, and follow the particular plant down in the line of its origin. His field is a grand one compared with the ordinary man he perceives
;

great thiugs in the flower.

The

poet,
it
;

when he

sits

down before

the flower, contemplates

and contem-

THE POETRY.
plates infinitely
It
is

121
is

more than

it.

That
God.

his province.
it

planted in a background of the infinities:

blossoms as a suggestion of
couplet or verse or lofty

He
it.

writes

his

poem about

In prose lan-

guage no

us all about such a thing as a primrose. There is no prose which will contain it you cannot translate the thought into
tell
: :

man

has ever been able to

prose

if

you try you

lose the thought.

Well, the great thoughts of Israel's great men have come to us in the poetical form. It may be said that all of the great thoughts have come in that guise.
Little thoughts, such as the priests often had,

little

notions of

how

to sacrifice to Jehovah,

and how to£

make curtains and other things for a tabernacle, or how to make clothes for priests, really fail to interany one. The man of the smallest soul can get no est

comfort out of those portions of the Scriptures which contain the priests' trifles, unless he first tries to swell

something of proportion by putting into them a prophecy or symbol of the sublime sacrifice
the
trifles to

of the

Man

of later Scriptures.
trifles,

enough, those ancient
tise

— as
fly

They

are definite

definite as a trea-

on housekeeping
real

:

but they

away from us
is

like

the chaff.

The
etry.

power of the Old Testament

in its po-

kind of food which makes the soul great. It pushes us out of our pettiness it furnishes a balm for our heavy sorrows it gives us
It constitutes the
;

;

visions

;

helps us to contemplate, and takes us out of
little

the range of the

and the

fugitive.

Poetry, there-

fore, is peculiarly the

gion

is

language of religion. For relino hard and fast and dry philosophy. It is
Its office is to
it

the realm of the feelings.

develop in

us great and true emotions, and

may

truly be said

122
that

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
we gain our
greatest feelings

by the help

of Is-

rael's poetry.

Therefore when we come to the poetry of the Bible we come nearer to God than in history
or story or ethical teachings.
veil of the

As we grow

able to

look in upon the inner meanings of that poetry, the

temple

is

rent for us, and

we gaze upon
di-

the

Most Holy place. The truth of poetry

is

suggested rather than

rectly expressed,

and therefore the poet does not care for the small and definite truth which he seems to be
it

putting into words, except so far as

may

serve his

purpose in suggesting the great and the indefinite In the use of the poet the incongruous, the truth.

and the impossible are not rejected. knows no bounds. If any one looked up'on a vast mountain raising its white spire into the clouds, he would think of that as an immovable mass. Whatever else might move, that would remain and be everlasting but if the poet were upon another strain, and were thinking of the presence of God, the everlasting hills would cease to be everlastextravagant,

The

flood of his feelings

;

ing.

One
like

feeling of the poet,

also

hymns of Israel expresses the fervid who sees the mountains skipping rams, and the little hills like lambs. The sea beholds something and flees away. The river
of the

stops its flowing.
effects ?

What

produces

all these

wonderful
out

The presence
and

of the

God

of Jacob, leading

his chosen people out of bondage.

God comes

of his secret place

visits his

people, after long

absence, and all things witness this awful presence,

— the mountains, the
trembles.

sea, the river

:

the earth itself

This

is

the poet's feeling of the sublim-

ity of that presence,

and

it is

graphically portrayed, -V

THE POETRY.
speak of the drapery as
if it

123

After we have learned the poet's method we do not
consisted of actual phe-

nomena

do not think that the sea fled away, nor that the river stopped its flow, nor that A great many people have the mountains skipped. thought so, and out of poetry have made history. But when out of poetry you make history, you destroy the poetry and lose the element of religion it contains. The poet always was extravagant, seemingly. To him,
in

nature.

We

in his vision, the earth trembles at the presence of

God, and the mountains skip the sea is driven back Everything goes out of its So stood the sun course to honor or testify to God. still on the plains of Gibeon, while the leader of God's people sought help from on high but it was in the vision, and not in fact, it stood still. The principal poetry of the Jews seems to have been gathered from many sources, and into a number of hymn-books. That portion of the poetry which could be used in worship, could be sung or chanted, seems to have made a hymn collection. That many of the Psalms were so employed appears very natural. There are many things which go to show that the hymns were prepared for chanting. Musical signs were interspersed here and there. The word " Selah," which I suppose used to seem one of the mysteries of Providence, and insoluble at that, is found to indicate simply a pause. And just as we have marks in our staff, above it, generally, such as/*, or^. to
;

the river stops flowing.

;

signify that the passage is to be rendered strongly or

very strongly, or piano or pianissimo to indicate softness, so this

hymn

poetry of the Jews had

its

marks. 1
more

There were time-marks and marks of expression, and
1 See Dr. Gladden's complete explanation.

Who

Wrote

the Bible f

chap,

vii.,

for

124

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

indications of the kind of instrument to be
for accompaniment,

employed and all the like, in the Psalms. One easily forgets the names of these various marks, which I suppose every Hebrew student who becomes proficient in the Psalms commits to memory. But these indicate that when we read the Psalms we are reading from the Jewish hymn-books. They had five or six of these books, which were finally gathered into one.

Many
some

of

the

hymns have been
some
to

to Moses,
;

credited to David, Solomon, and others to vari-

ous authors

to believe that

but our modern scholars find it difficult David wrote any of the Psalms. The
all came to be known in a Psalms of David." There is suf;

compilers of the hymn-books attributed some of the

songs to David, and they
general
ficient

way

as " the

evidence that they belong to a later time but with the question of authorship we are not now concerned. At present we will consider the widely variant

God which these hymns testify to. In modern times it seems desirable to have hymnbooks which express the ideas of our own particular church or sect. There are some hymns so good and so comprehensive that almost any sect would put them in their book, but on the whole it is desirable, as it appears, for our Roman brethren to have their Roman book for our Episcopal brethren theirs for the Presbyterian and Baptist and Methodist and Universalist and Unitarian brethren their own peculiar hymnconceptions of
; ;

books.

— that

One does
is, if

not really enjoy singing bad doctrines,

he cares for doctrines at all. He would prefer to sing out of the book which his sect approves and publishes. Some hymn-books, adapted to periods of unusual religious excitement, are employed by all the sects which resort to revivals but they are used,
\

;

THE POETRY.
of course,

125

by most intelligent people with more or less mental reservation. The Jews, however, were very comprehensive in their hospitality to hymns. Their sentiments seem not to have crystallized into doctrines. Least of all were they able to express doctrines in hymns.

A

dogma

in a

hymn

is

a

little like

a wild beast in a
to their

col-

lection of chinaware, very destructive of the beauty of

the poetry.
otic order.

The Jews welcomed
Whatever the
it

religious sentiment,

— particularly

hymn-books

that of the patri-

doctrinal drift of a senti-

ment might

some For have we not many sorts of feelings ? those of joy, and of sorrow, of peace and of anger, of exultation and of contrition and having all these, shall we not give them their best expression in our religion? Israel
be, if it appealed to the feelings, or

of the feelings,

could have a place.

;

did not

tell

us so

much about God

as about its various

God, in these hymns. That is what we want to know. We must have our own feelings about God, and others can help us but God giveth such knowledge of himself as is fit, to each teachable spirit. One poet looked upon Jehovah in one way, another in another way. Each went according to his gift or light. Our modern hymns are usually poor and feeble compared with the songs of Israel. It has been said that the Psalms strike every chord of human feeling, and these chords are struck strongly. There were two things which did not hamper the poet of Israel the one was doctrine and the
feelings concerning
;
:

other was rhyme.

He concerned

himself with neither,

but did concern himself to speak strongly his feeling His poetry was of the kind or his inward conviction. Wordsworth called " inevitable."

126

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

*

In modern hymn-books are usually at least some bad hymns, bad because they are neither poetry nor The hymns are not all upon an equality. We truth. do not begin at the beginning of a hymn-book and sing all the hymns through seriatim. There are a few which tower above all others. It is precisely so with all the Jewish hymn-books. There are some which help us more, or inspire us more deeply than we can tell. There are others which help us no whit. There are some which appeal to the feelings we ought to strugIn one of the hymns gle against with all our might. Jehovah is spoken of as the God of revenges, but in another as the shepherd of men. Then the pathos of contrition and humility is mingled in some hymns with thirst for the confusion and destruction of one's

enemies.

There

is

It is the blemish

a blemish in which

many
rises

of the

hymns

of praise.

from the fact that Israel

in its enterprise except

was long a military people. No nation can be military it be to some extent moved by
its

the feeling of hatredjof

enemies.

/And

so bitter

was the hatred of Israel in the earlier part of its career that it pursued some of its wars to the extent of exterminating those who opposed. There is no question
of the bravery of that peculiar people.

They bore

the

onset of the greatest of the military powers of the
world.

The

hosts of Assyria pressed

out conquering their indomitable

extreme

sacrifice of

upon them withThere was no which they were not capable. Nospirit.

thing more truly heroic stands in the annals of history

than the intrepidity and unflinching courage of the small bands of Judah, in Maccabean times, withstanding the armies before which the very earth trembled. For such a people to be without martial hymns would

THE POETRY.
be an impossibility.
the

127

Lord

of hosts.

Their God was the God of war, Their Jehovah was the great conIt is the

queror of enemies.
fore, that

more

surprising, there-

many

of their

hymns breathe

the spirit of

peace and of

humanity.

It is surprising that
is

any

could be found to believe that the earth

Jehovah's,

and the fullness thereof; that the sweeter elements which belong to a later time should have found expression in the days of the struggle toward the sovereignty of the world.

The

better feeling mingles closely
is

with the worse.
salvation, but

Jehovah

God

shall crush the

spoken of as the God of head of his ene-

mies. God says that he will again bring his people out of Bashan, that " thy foot may be dipped in blood,

and the tongue
thine

of thy dogs stained with the blood of

enemies."

And

yet in the same

hymn
who

is

the

prayer that Jehovah will scatter
wars.

those

desire

We are

therefore driven to choose out of the
'

hymns

and fittest for our help. v Some of the sentiments we must resolutely reject^ We are compelled to resort to the sifting process and so all people practically do. Those who would be horrified at the thought of omitting any portion from the sacred canon do, for their own private behoof, and for the development in themselves of comfort, hope, and trust, select those things which help them the most, and read only with reluctance the other things. Doubtless the hymn-books of the Jews were made very much as ours were made, but with a difference. We have our Watts and Cowper and the Wesleys. (We have the modern hymn-book poetry, which is intensely dogmatic, and therefore far from religious.
of Israel the best
;

(We make our sectarian books.

It

may almost be

said

128
that

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
we
try to sing baptism by immersion, and bap-

tism by sprinkling.

We

try to sing the decisions of

the Council of Nica^a and the Council of Trent.")

We

have tried to sing the dogmas of the priests about We have sung, too, about probation and sacrifices. And in all such ways we have the definite end of it. fallen far below the standard of Israel. Their hymns were large hymns of praise to Jehovah. Whether Jehovah were to be regarded as the God of revenges, or the shepherd, there were the ever applicable feelings

name of my God with a song, I will magnify him with praise. And this shall please God more than a young calf having horns
of praise.

" I will praise the

and hoofs." Our comparatively few hymns of praise are those which vibrate in our souls after the music
ceases without.

There

is

a

still

higher merit in Israel's hymns.

The
free.

poet has been said to be the one

who

sets us

would be better to say that he is the one from its latency in our own breast the truth which uplifts us, and makes us see God. To have that truth born into the world, and declare
Perhaps
it

who can

set free

itself,

is

the greatest

blessing

we can have.

And

nothing which so declares our inward and latent truth, the truth which connects us with God, and makes us now and then conscious of his presence, I think I speak as the greatest of Israel's hymns.
there
is

Back in the pre-Christian times advisedly in this. there was some great soul of the Jews, a sort of Schlik
ermacher, or Spinoza, or Goethe,
it

who knew how

to

free our deepest consciousness of its truth,

and bring

The highest and grandest philosout into song. ophy accords with the highest and grandest poetry. Disraeli called the poets the unacknowledged legis-

THE POETRY.
lators

129

of
is

the world.

So

far as the poetry of the

Bible

concerned, the poets have helped

many

to

walk
If
self

in

ways of pain and struggle victoriously. you are consumed by anxiety, and fretting your-

poet

about the result of your endeavors, it is the divine who tells you to rest in Jehovah, and wait paIf

tiently for him.

you

feel that

your

efforts will be

misunderstood, and that evil motives will be attributed

your heart, and bids you commit your way to Jehovah, " and he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday." If you feel that there is a hazard in your steps, and you do not know where they will end, although you take them for righteousness' sake, the poet tells you that the steps of the good man are ordered by Jehovah, and that Jehovah delighteth in his way; that if he falls he shall be uplifted, because Jehovah upholdeth with his hand. If one feels lonely and forsaken, and as if all were against him, the poet tells him "I have been young and am old, yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." These and many other things the inspired poet tells us, not because he is an authorized person and can speak ex cathedra, but because he sees these things to be true, and we can also see them to be true, without any proof whatever. In the Psalms we find that highest authority which consists in revealing our own deepest things unto ourselves. We do not ask who wrote a hymn before we are ready to sing it. (But if the music of truth is in it, and we have an ear for such music, then we sing it as from heaven. It is a song of Zion to us.
to you, the poet soothes
:

The Jews were

solicitous for the authority of great

130

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

names, and yet their best hymns are anonymous. In science a great name has deserved weight.

We

cannot examine the facts of nature in any large extent; we have neither the skill nor the time to do it. There is, therefore, a good reason why we should go to our great lights of science to find out about nature.
It is so in civil law,
it

is

so in medicine,

it

is

so in

many
it

of the departments of

not in religion.

A

our activity; but so is mother does not go and ask the

authorities about love to discover whether or

no she

loves

her babe.

No man

goes to a philosopher to

discover about the presence of God.

Yet if it has mothers that some one has been able to give the best voice to the motherlove, then all true mothers delight in that voice. The speaker may be unknown, but the revelation is there. If it has transpired in the experience of any one that God is present with him, besetting him behind and before, that will make a revelation of our before latent truth, and that is the kind of authority the Psalms notably have. They expose to us, as almost nothing else does, the things of God latent within The moral philosopher can help us someourselves. what the scribe somewhat but, most of all, God's poet blesses us with the blessing of opening to us the primal truths. hymn would be written by some person among the Jews, and would be set to such music as they then had would be gathered later into some collection, to be used in their temple service. This collection would afterward be followed by another. There would be long hymns and short ones. In some, the history would be set forth in others, there would be little but praise of Jehovah for his wonderful works to the

come about

in the experience of

;

;

A

;

;

THE POETRY.
children of men.
spirit of malediction.

131

In a few there would breathe the (If religious men had chosen

only the good
of their

hymns of Israel, and had blotted out remembrance the bad hymns, bloodshed and cruelty would have been less in the world's history than they have been. If religious men had taken for divine that which inspired their own souls to the best feelings, the Christian church would not have stained itself with the blood of countless martyrs./ Thus by the history of Christendom God hath taught us that
it is

our duty, as well as our privilege, to make choice

of the good

and

reject the evil, in everything fur-

nished by

human

experienced)

XII.

GREEK INFLUENCE.

According

to the popular notion, derived mostly

from the numbers of years marked on the margins of the English Bibles, a blank in the history of Israel occurs between the last of the prophets and the birth of Jesus Christ, a blank of about four hundred years. This period apparently leaves no record of itself in the Bible, and therefore must seem unimportant. So that, whereas there are very clear and definite ideas about the earliest days of Hebrew history, and even

of the time preceding

Hebrew

history, the last five

hundred years of that history have received almost no attention from common readers of the Bible. Recent critical studies of the Bible have gone far In fact, one cannot to modify this popular notion.
give attention to the subject without finding that the

popular notion
slight

is

the reverse of the truth.
the

Of

the

actual early history of

Hebrews we have very

increase of
torical

knowledge, and there is little prospect of an it and the importance of it from a his;

standpoint

is

quite secondary.

By

far

the

most interesting and important part of Jewish history is in the blank space supposed to be left by the Bible. During a period of about one hundred and seventyfive years, beginning with the last of the eleventh
century of the Christian era, eight crusades took
place.

These were hysterical movements of Western

GREEK INFLUENCE.

133

Europeans upon the Holy Land. (Good results, however, often flow from misfortunes.) From that peculiar insanity of superstition which took the form of
the crusade arose this chief result, namely, a better

acquaintance of the people of Western Europe with

more advanced than their own, the Greek and the Saracenic. Thus a powerful impulse was given both to the literature and the commerce of EuropeO) The exile of the Jews from their land gave them a great and new impulse in several ways. They were brought into contact with civilizations and religions in some respects superior to their own. It is true they lost their political independence, and that was a great trial to them, but they gained far more than they lost. They added largely to their before small stock of relitwo
civilizations

gious ideas.

It is possible to represent the changes they underwent only in the most general way, and as highly

probable rather than entirely certain.
they had been like children.
for the most part one

Before the exile Their national god was
gods,

among many such

and

their practices were largely such as prevailed else-

where.

There was one element of superiority which

we may declare became the seed of future greatness. They gradually came to some ideas of right. And
while they were struggling to reach these ideas clearly,

much confusion, (jhey attributed good to Jehovah, but also evil.j We hear the later Isaiah saying for Jehovah "^T form the light and create darkness I make peace and create evil I, Jehovah, do all these things."} This is an echo from one
they passed through
:

;

:

of
4

the earliest of

the prophets,

Amos, who

cries,

\Shall there be evil in a city and Jehovah hath not done it t\" It was natural that they should attribute

134

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
Many
even to-day are unable to

evil to their god.

extricate themselves

from the dilemma which con-

fronted them.

In this as in other respects there came a change, and this change was wrought by new ideas which came to them from the Persians and Chaldeans. They were separated from their place of worship, Jerusalem. Their temple had been destroyed, and its service had ceased and under such circumstances it was inevitable that their feelings and reasonings should change. Jehovah grew greater to them. They came to think of him as the only God. This was all providential. After one has come to think of God as some of the Jews did, there is no lack of providence, but gradually God's providence fills everything. The Jews found that there was only one God, and that he was a far greater and higher being than their fathers had imagined. But as these feelings increased they found God, their national God, withdrawing from them. He seemed to be farther away because he was greater. So grew up the idea of God's transcendence. He was the ruler of all. He was the creator of all. The heavens were the work of his hands, as well as the
;

earth.

Accordingly we behold

in the

time succeeding

the exile a distinct doctrine of angels.

To be

sure,

angels had been thought of before, but what they were the winds and the

no one seemed able to imagine. They might be like After their contact with the fires. Persians angels, which are like men and have human names, are spoken of. The angels were now more necessary to their religious philosophy than they had been before. Because if God were so high above all things, if God were resident, so to speak, in a lofty transcendency, it would be necessary for him to have

GREEK INFLUENCE.
his affairs.

135

beings of inferior rank to do his bidding and carry on

The Persians contributed angels

to the

Jews when the new necessities of their religion called There was a distinct necessity for them, for angels. because God was no longer a dweller on earth, but far away. God was therefore not alone in heaven, but was surrounded by an heavenly host of swift and powerful beings, by whom he procured his will to be done. (This enlargement of their theology helped them they were no longer compelled to also in other ways think of God as the author of evil. While God had been receding from them, the ground of their confidence in him had been growing firmer. He was rightIf there eous, and could now always be righteous. was evil in the city, it was not necessary to think that Jehovah did it. It was not necessary to think that God was darkness as well as light.) For the inferior beings, sometimes called the sons of God, were capable of both good and evil. Some of them were reckoned to be good angels. And instead of having a god for each nation, it might at least be conceived that there was for each nation a guardian angel. In the time of great distress and danger, there was comfort in feeling that a mighty angel was guarding the destinies of the people. If there were hosts on the earth in battle array, it was conceived that there were also hosts on high, also in battle array. The good and the evil were fighting there, as good and evil nations were fighting here. These beings of the other and higher order were therefore good and. bad. They were respectively instigating their peoples to good and evil. At the present time the angels are fading away
;

again.

It is because of still greater conceptions of
;

God

that arise

but at that time the introduction of

136

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

angels marks a distinct advance and improvement of
the religion of Israel.
It is impossible to

do more than touch upon the na-

ture of the Chaldean and Persian influence upon the

But, to those who carefully study in the light modern methods, there can be no doubt of the importance of this influence, and at the very time when it was received.

Jews.

of

In that blank space between the last of the prophets and the birth of Christ, the principal preparation was

made

for the introduction of the greater religion.
all

We
of

are perhaps unable to strictly identify

or

many

the influences, but the principal ones are plain.

And

one of the principal of these moulding influences arose from the association of Jews with Greeks. The outA certain line of the history is somewhat as follows had returned to Palestine during portion of the Jews After the reign of Cyrus, and under his protection. had made the most the time of Cyrus his successors
:

strenuous effort to conquer the Greeks, but the ser-

monarch found themselves unable to cope with the free Greeks. They met disastrous defeat at Marathon, about 490 B. c, and at
vile forces of the Oriental

Thermopylae ten years

later.

The

states or cities of

the Greek peninsula were torn by jealousies, and by

reason of their dissensions were fast becoming unable
to carry on their warfare, until they were united under

Philip of Macedon.
to possess the

Philip was to

As the Persian ambition had been territory, now the ambition of conquer Persia on its own soil. This
Greek
became the master of the

design of his was carried out by Alexander, who, in a
brief but brilliant career,

world.

Palestine became incorporated in the

new

uni-

versal empire about 330 B. c.

GREEK INFLUENCE.

137

In the course of a century, there came to be Greek communities in Palestine. large number of Jews went to the new and great city founded in honor of Alexander, and called after him. It is very evident that the Jews were now brought under an influence which was to have a profound effect upon their feelings and religion, as well as the religions which should afterward grow out of theirs. Without entering upon any examination of the peculiar history of the period, which was one of great trial to the faithful Jews, suffice it to say that they were being broadened, or, as we say, liberalized, by contact with the people who at that time excelled not only in arms, but in the arts and philosophy and polite learning. It is impossible for a people who have any quickness of apprehension, no matter what strength of

A

conservatism

is

theirs, to

escape the influence of such

The Greeks were not haughty and tyrannical, but met them upon grounds of a fellowship which The effect their liberal religious ideas did not forbid.
a contact.
of such influence
is

seen in a book written about the

close of the third century B. C,

and which was

attri-

buted by its author, according to a literary device of In reality this remarkable the Jews, to Solomon. book does not reflect the times of Solomon, but the The book of Ecclesitimes of the Greek dominion.
astes is lacking in the religious fervor of earlier

and

greater books, and there

apparent in it, as most readers have seen, a skepticism which shows that the Greek contact had brought sadness and that shadow
is

which

The writer is is always cast by materialism. wearied with the repetitions of nature. The sun riseth and goeth to his place. The wind goeth toward the south and turneth about unto the north it whirleth
;

138

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
The
rivers

about continually.

things are full of labor

run into the sea. All cannot utter it. This unutterable sameness of things, and of life, and of labor this everlasting flight of vanity upon an aimless mission the very effort to find out the meaning of all these things, it is all a vexation of spirit. The writer of this belonged, of course, to the wealthy He had the time and opportunity to devote class. He gave his heart to know himself to philosophy. wisdom, and acquired, as he tells us, a great experience above all other men, but he found only grief. The position of his nation, as conquered, was an
;

man

;

;

affliction to

him

;

but that does not account for the
all things.
;

dismal view he takes of
limit his view to his

own nation
is

For he does not he takes a keen

glance at everything that

done under the sun. And it all amounts to the same thing. It is all vanity, and such a realm of vanity is more painful to contemplate than a realm of sorrow
whether
it is

here or there,

to account for it. He can be that there is a God who is mighty and good, and at the same time such a world He has lost the faith of his predecessors. as this.
itself.

He

does not

know how

does not

know how

it

Not

their faith in the existence of

God, but

their sense

of God's presence.

God no

longer has anything to do

on the earth.
It is a curious fact, and worthy of our notice, that he does not seem any longer to care for the Jehovah of the Jews. He never once mentions his name, which was held in such profound reverence. He does not think of Israel as a peculiar people of Jehovah, therefore.

The Persian

influence has already had
off farther

its effect,

and God has gone
abysses.

and farther into the " Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not

GREEK INFLUENCE.
thine heart be hasty to utter anything before

139

God

;

for

heaven and thou upon earth, therefore let thy words be few.^ Possibly, if this were to be translated into the plainest of our speech, it would be found to be advice not to address words to God, or petitions God is in heaven and man is on earth, or praises. and there is no communication between the two.

God

is

in

;

It
is

must not be supposed that the religion of the Jews

forgotten by this man, nor that he has become athe-

istic.

noted,

And

there

is

another thing which ought to be

his belief in the

goodness or righteousness of

taught that only by obedience to the commandments of God can we expect happiness. He has

God.

He

lost the

enthusiasm, the spirit of trust, the heart of

love for God.

The truth he
:

sees is like the light of

a most wintry sun it does not warm his soul. It is entirely possible he was acquainted with the doctrine
of immortality.

In then recent times

it

had been emit.

braced, but he did not find himself able to believe

He, indeed, finds that the same event happens to all, both good and bad. " As is the good, so is the sinner.
is

... To him
;

that

is

joined to
is

all

the living, there

hope

for a living

dog

better than a dead lion.
shall die, but the

For the living know that they

dead

know
love,

not anything, neither have they any more a re-

them is forgotten. Also th'eir and their envy is now perished; neither have they any more a portion forever in anything that is done under the sun." If there is anywhere a more distinct disclaimer of immortality than that, it would be difficult to find it. And yet the man believes in that distant God, that awful Power, resident
ward, for the
of

memory

and

their hatred,

in the distances.

He

believes, too, in goodness to

a

moderate extent.

For, in spite of his rash generaliza-

140

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
is still

tion of all things under the head of vanity, he

almost always moderate.
itself in

This moderation displays

the advice he gives to men. Because there is nothing after death, therefore, he says, " Enjoy your life. Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with

Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity
a merry heart.
. .

.

for that

is

thy portion in
it

life.

findeth to do, do

with thy might

Whatsoever thy hand for there is no
;

work nor
of
is

device, nor

knowledge nor wisdom,

in Sheol,

whither thou goest."

The

best thing he can think

But he has observed perishes, and the wicked man prolongs his days. His advice therefore neither make thyis, " Be not righteous overmuch
the long extension of
life.

that sometimes the righteous

man
;

self

overwise

;

why

shouldest thou

destroy thyself
;

?

Be not overmuch wicked,

neither be thou foolish

why

shouldest thou die before thy time?"

Some have

spoken of the writer of all this as a worn-out voluptua man who had tried everything of the delights of the flesh, and had found himself disappointed, as all such do. But does he not rather appear to be a man He has lost the enthusiasm of extreme moderation ?
ary
;

and fervor of the Jewish religion, and had contracted It was perhaps inevitable, but it the Greek flavor. was in the last degree mournful. This shows us how the notion of the transcendence of God, his work through angels and secondary causes, is likely to sap the enthusiasm and fervor of religion if it develop far
enough.

The Greek
it

influence, however, is not all expressed,

merely finds over-expression, in this book of Ecclesiastes. We may well suppose that, while all the Jews

GREEK INFLUENCE.

141

responded to Greek influence, not all, and not a considerable portion of them, went the lengths of the author of this book.

Indeed, the Greek influence

itself

is hard to understand, if we do not find more in it than There had been a the moderation of this preacher. The statesmen great history across the western sea. and scholars and poets had been those whose memory

the world has delighted to honor, but these great

men

had

all

departed.

Five centuries before the beginto the

ning of the Christian era the greatest of the Greeks

had

died, sacrificing himself

welfare of the

state.

The Greeks had

their priests, as

had the Jews, but
;

they also had enjoyed the advantage of one great prophet, doubtless of more than one but the one is

known

men. ^Socrates had been as conscious of a divine call and mission as any of the Jewish proHe had devoted himself to that misphets had been.
to all

sion with a fidelity sealed

at last

with his blood.

Among

not arisen a greater than Socrates, with one exception^ The mission of
Socrates, as well as of his predecessors,

those born of

women hath

and that great

successor JPlato3 to

whom

the world

is

so vastly in debt,

could not have been lost as the centuries rolled on.

To every

great river, as
;

are tributaries

it flows toward the sea, there and that great river of religion, which

took the name of Christianity nineteen centuries ago, did not then spring in full flood out of the ground.

The same of human

river

had been coming down through eras
Or,
if

experience, but this experience was not lim-

ited to the one nation.

Israel belongs the honor of the

we suppose that to name of that religion,
Israel,

there were other streams which contributed their supply, at
fit

places in the progress.

with

its dis-

142

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

tinguishing idea of righteousness, was cast adrift from its old belongings, that it might share the riches of the It was sent into exile, both for its own good heathen.

and the good of the world, and for the welfare of unborn generations. It was cast in contact with the
Persians, to learn of these followers of the ancient and
refined religion of Zoroaster
It

what they could teach. was thrown afterward with those who had felt the influence of Greek thought, then and long the most subtle, the most liberal, the most enlightened in the
world.
It would be possible, had one the knowledge and the delicacy of perception, to trace these four great contributing influences in the mind of the writer of the

book of Ecclesiastes.

The

fervor of the

toned down by the moderation of the Stoic.

of righteousness inherited from the by the feeling of the distance of God in the heavens or by the loss of Jehovah, the national and present deity. The skepticism of the later Greeks thus makes its appearance as upon the surface, to be the chief

Hebrew is The idea Hebrews is chilled

feature of the book.

All

this, nevertheless, contri-

butes to the revelation of
the

God

to

man.

It all prepares

way

for the fuller revelation.
it

In our own time we hear, as
of the words of Ecclesiastes.
to be

were, an echo of some

We

persuasive and eloquent orator of our
;

may.

overmuch righteous to But our orator does not go quite so far as the author of Ecclesiastes. Of a life beyond the grave he does not profess to know anything; but he would not darken the star of hope which may cheer any
soul. The author of Ecclesiastes is persuaded in his own mind that there is no work, nor device, nor con-

by a own country not enjoy life while we
are exhorted

GREEK INFLUENCE.
sciousness, in

143

Sheol, whither

we

are all going.

He

may have darkened

the star of hope in

many

breasts.

Yet there is in all such philosophy somewhat of preparation for the coming better religion. The Jewish
authorities did not reject

such writings from their canon, because such writings as the book of Ecclesiastes contain somewhat of the increasing revelation.
:

It does not satisfy us neither do any of the things preparatory to Christianity satisfy us wholly. There is a value in such a book as that of Ecclesiastes, however, which is not lessened by its defects. Together with the book of Jonah, and others which

express wide sympathies,
the universal religion.

it

helps prepare the

way

for

When we

reach the beginning

of the universal religion, the religion not of the Jew,

kind,

nor of the Greek, nor of the barbarian, but of manwe hear no longer the name, Jehovah. If we find fault with the omission of this revered name from
Ecclesiastes,

the book of

what
?

shall

we say

of

the
is

bringer-in of the

new

covenant, to

simply a word of the past
the

— who dares

whom

the word

to replace all

names

of the past
?

by the term

of tender

and

close

relation,

Father

Surely the skepticism of this

Jew two

hundred years before Christ, the sad pessimism of this book, and the development of an all-doubting spirit were not wasted if they helped to broaden the way for the blessing of mankind by a religion which should root itself in that which had come from all nations. vJPaul acknowledges that he is debtor to both Jews and Greeks so are we all, and to more than Jews and
;

Greeks,

— to those who held
errors
;

partial truths

;

to those

who held
It

to those

who doubted
the future

the future, as
life.

well as to those

who expected

may

be well to open our eyes to the fact that our

144
Bible
its
is

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
not the product of Jewish thought alone.
is

As

mission

to bless all nations, so

it

has been

made

by

all nations.

God

is

not alone the

God

of the Jew,

but also of the Gentile.

In that period which has been regarded as blank, between the last of the prophets and Christ, scholars of religion are showing us the preparations of divine Providence for the breaking down of the walls of partition. In the light of their discoveries we may see the Jew bringing to us his sheaves, and the Persian bringing his sheaves, and the Greek his. And the end is not yet. There rises in the West a people before whom the earth is destined to tremble as it has never trembled before the people before whom the conquering Greek and the already subject Jew must learn to bow. The last of the world empires is to arise before the coming of the world's true king. The Greek is to be supplanted by the Roman.
;

XIII.

OTHER INFLUENCES.

The
the

extent and permanence of the Greek influ-

ence over the Jews are best shown by the fact that

Greek language, with some local modification, was adopted by the Hebrew people and in process of time the Hebrew Scriptures, which were begun at the time of the exile, and brought later to a sort of The Greek completion, were translated into Greek. Scriptures came to be of such general use among the people, not only of Egypt and Alexandria, but of
;

Palestine as well, that a large proportion of the quo-

New Testament from the Old are from Greek instead of the Hebrew Bible. Greek customs and Greek thoughts found their way into Hebrew usage and minds, and the old walls of separation between the Jew and the rest of the world began to be undermined. The Jews, as a separate people, under the auspices of Jehovah, had almost accomplished their mission. As we speculate, we find
tations in the

the

it

possible,

perhaps

probable,

that

if

the

history

Jews could have been long continued under the influence of the Greeks, there would have enof the

sued such a mingling of the better elements of both kinds of religion and philosophy as would have left
the Jewish religion
is.

much

less distinct

than

it

really

Comparative quiet had the Jews during the

rule,

146
first of

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
the Persians, and then of the Greeks.

And
assimi-

quiet times are favorable for easy
lation.

and natural

The

old

dream

of the Jews, that they

were

the peculiar people of God, destined always to remain
peculiar until they should arrive at the control of all
nations,

was already subsiding.

They were learning

the arts and sciences of the Greeks, as well as adopt-

ing their language.

A

certain king,

with ambition, and

who seems to have been insane who desired above all things to
and even

make a

brilliant career, took occasion to violently in-

terfere with the religious rites of the Jews,

went so far as to

issue a

command

that they should

worship the gods of Greece alone. The temple on Mt. Gerizim was dedicated to Jupiter, while, upon the high altar of the temple at Jerusalem, swine's flesh was offered in sacrifice, and broth of swine's flesh was sprinkled in the holy place, and over the
sacred utensils.

No

such successful mode could have been devised

to stop the liberalizing process

which was gradually

leavening the religion of the Jews.
ings,

They were,

of

course, aroused to resist these blasphemous proceed-

power.
to

and the religious sentiment was revived in great They became Jews again, and were prepared

stand stoutly for the ancestral religion, which was almost departing from them. The observance of the Sabbath was forbidden and synagogues were destroyed. Antiochus could have taken no course so sure to defeat his ends as this. Yet by taking this course he performed a great service for the world to

come, because he prevented the loss of the root of a true religion, the religion of the prophets and psalmists,

— the

religion

which was founded to bless the

OTHER INFLUENCES.
development.

147

world, and out of which should grow the Christian

One of the measures of repression resorted to by Antioehus the Brilliant was to order the delivery to his officers of all copies of the law to be burned. If any failed to obey, they were to be slain. The satellites of the king went prowling up and down the kingdom, violently destroying the remnants of the old religion. To meet such atrocity, the spirit of the peowas at length aroused. considerable proportion ple of them submitted and became idolaters, but there was a remnant in whom the spirit of the prophets slumbered, in whose breast it was reawakened. The

A

agents of the king, in carrying out their plan, came to

a small town, between Jerusalem and Joppa, where dwelt a distinguished priest named Matthias, who was the father of five sons. This man was commanded to offer sacrifice upon an altar erected by the agents of Upon his the king, but he flatly refused to do it. refusal, there advanced from the crowd one of those pliant men of the Jews who were always ready to make favor with the party in power, and he proceeded Matthias, the aged priest, to offer the sacrifices. bear that, and promptly killed the man. would not

The

officers of

Antioehus were

killed, the altar de-

stroyed, and Matthias called to him all who were zealous for the law. These escaped into the wilderness, were pursued and attacked, but after a while became Their numbers increased, and what they victorious.
lost otherwise, as in

weapons,

etc.,

they gained in

in-

creased spirit and courage.

They carried on their warfare, after the death of the aged priest, under the leadership of his son, Judas, whose surname was Maccabeus, or The Hammer.

148

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

In a series of conflicts which ensued, the Jews were mainly victorious. Jerusalem was retaken, the temple cleansed, the sacrifices resumed. After that manner the religion of Ezra and Nehemiah, the religion of the prophets, which had seemed to languish, which had been almost lost, as the book of Ecclesiastes witnesses, was again established. By the student of history, and especially one interested in the history of the Jews,
rise of the religion of Christ, it

the best accounts of

and in tracing the must be deplored that these most urgent and signifi-

cant times, the books of the Maccabees, were excluded

from our Protestant editious of the Bible. For they describe the most heroic period of Israel's history not only, but they give us some information of the rise of those religious parties which played so important a
part in the time of Jesus Christ.
the
first

association of the

They also tell us of Romans with the Jews.

Judas Maccabeus heard of the might and valor of the Romans, and how ready they were to make treaties with other nations. " It was told him also of their wars and noble acts which they had done among the Gauls, and how they conquered them, and brought them under tribute, and what they had done in Spain, and how they had conquered every place though it were In a word, Judas heard very remote from them." of the universal conquest of this mighty people of Moreover, there was something new in the West. the mode of the administration of government by this great people. They had representatives over three hundred of them to sit in their senate chambers daily, so that the affairs of the people might be well ordered ; and one man was chosen each year for the

administration of executive functions.

OTHER INFLUENCES.

149

This information so influenced Judas that, being
himself in straits because of his enemies the Greeks,

he sent a deputation to Italy to propose an alliance with the Romans. Their response to this proposal is given '(Good success be to the Romans, and to the people of the Jews, by sea and by land, forever the
:

;

sword

also,
first

come

and enemy, be far from them. If there any war upon the Romans, or any of their
shall help them, as the time shall
;

confederates throughout all their dominion, the people
of the

Jews

be ap-

pointed, with all their heart

neither shall they give

anything unto them that make war upon them, or aid them with victuals, weapons, money, or ships, as it hath seemed good unto the Romans but they shall
;

keep their covenants without taking anything therefor. In the same manner, also, if war come first upon the nation of the Jews, the Romans shall help them with all their heart," etc. ) So comes the all-conquering Roman upon the ground of the Jew, thenceforth to be inseparable from Jewish history, so long as the
nation remained in the land.
Internal dissensions arose
of the Jews,

among

the rival princes

gave a pretext to Pompey to gain possession of Jerusalem. The priests were slain at the altar, and Pompey drew aside the veil that concealed the most holy place, expecting to find some image there. It does not appear that this act, so prothis

and

fane to the Jews, was anything more than the curiosity

who had the power to do as he chose, and who wished to look upon the gods of a conquered people. In this act of profanation, as they deemed it,
of a stranger

together with later acts of tyranny, such as taking the

Jewish ruler and other princes to

Roman

Rome to grace the triumph, originated the hatred against the Ro-

150

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

mans, which never afterward ceased nor diminished. This triumph of the Roman general occurred about 63 B. c, and the hatred then incurred had time to root
itself

deeply in the heart of

all classes of

the

Jews

before the birth of Jesus.

In the year 37 b. c, Herod, known as " the Great," became the king of the Jews, a man of

extraordinary talent, as shown by the fact that he was
able to maintain his throne during the great changes
in

Rome, and

in spite of

numerous and powerful ad-

versaries in Syria.

He

raised the Jewish state in the

making it the political power it had not been before. The old temple he replaced by a far more magnificent structure. He knew how to adorn cities. He had in perfection the Roman trick of securing popular favor by the improvement of streets, the establishment of baths, theatres, and the like. He builded the city which took the name of He gave a splendor to the kingdom it the Caesar. had not possessed, according to the traditions of the but by reason of people, since the days of Solomon his foreign birth, and the vices which stained his private character, and because he was a flatterer of the Romans, the Jews hated him persistently. Driven by
respect of the world,
;

the necessities of circumstances, as appears, this man slew many of his own kin, including three of his
sons, thus testifying to the evils of times

which made

Thus the days of such crimes necessary in a ruler. Herod were to the Jews days of horror, making them all the more solicitous to maintain the integrity of
their

a partial and possibly misleading view of the state of the Jews under the Roman rule, and of the condition of things into which Jesus was

own religion. One can have but

OTHER INFLUENCES.
born,

151
of

who

fails

to note the rise

and development
It
is,

three distinct parties

among them.

perhaps,
origin.

impossible to trace any of these parties to

its

But

of the existence of the three, the Gospels of the

New Testament
spectively

bear abundant testimony.

These three

divisions, partly religious

and partly

political, are re-

named the Pharisee, the Sadducee, and the In many respects the first of these is the most important, and has the closest relation with the life and teachings of Christ. The name signifies separation. The Pharisee was the Separatist. Perhaps he began his career in revolt against that rule of Greek influence which manifests itself in the book of Ecclesiastes, and which came to success under the lead of Judas Maccabeus. For under the Greek influence the old rigors introduced by Ezra, the laws against intermarriage and social intercourse with other peoples, had fallen all but dead. The atrocious attempt of Antiochus to destroy the last remnant of Jehovah worship had, as we have seen, awakened a new and brave zeal for the old laws and the old religion. The cry arose for a new sepEssene.
aration of the people of the divine promises from

In the time of Ezra, the same cry had men from their heathen wives. The ties of nature, which are really more sacred than any artificial ties of society or religion, had been ruthlessly violated. Husbands sent away their wives and children in order to become once
the heathen.
resulted in the violent divorce of Jewish

more

loyal Jews.

No

doubt Ezra, in his pious zeal for

the honor of Jehovah, believed that
rate, the old idea of separation,

God does require such barbarous things of the children of men. At any
which had been slowly

growing up, revived after the

exile,

and again revived

152

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

in the days of Judas, the heroic son of the heroic

In many ways the idea was old priest Matthias. taken up by a class of patriotic Jews. Whether they named themselves the Separatists, or were so named by their opponents, we do not know ; but they became
very strong with the people.
difficult to

understand

fully,

In a certain sense, now they were at the same

hypocrites, as

They were not a set of we may have imagined. Doubtless there were hypocrites among them, but so are there in any
time the progressive party.

What they wished was to assert the preeminence of the Jew over other men. To this feeling they had been stimulated by the book of Daniel, which
party.
foretold the supremacy of the

Jews

in the world (to

be shortly realized), and by other writings of a similar character.

But

if

the nation were separated from

other nations less holy, or unclean, so also individuals in the nation

who

aspired to holiness must keep
re-

themselves from association with even Jews of lax
ligion

and morals.

Those who loved the law should

who cared nothing for the law. They should them from their company as unclean and defiling. Such feelings grow naturally out of the desire If they are unto abide by regulations for conduct. modified by other feelings, such as those which make love for God and man the chief element in religion, they will soon develop into excess, and become the most hateful of all feelings. "(The Pharisees grew exceedingly proud and exclusive. They knew and affirmed their They could go into the superiority to other men. temple and pray, and thank God that they were better than other men, because they kept the laws and paid
hate those
separate
the taxes^\
(

The Sadducees were

of patrician

rank

;

and while

OTHER INFLUENCES.

153

one of their number might be a Pharisee, although he would thereby sacrifice the esteem and countenance of his fellow-Sadducees, no person not to the manner horn could be a Sadducee. The Sadducees fell from political power with the beginning of the reign of Herod. From that time on, the Pharisees gained the ascendancy in Jewish affairs which they were able to
maintain nearly to the end.
little political significance,

There was another party, of small numbers and of but of which Josephus, the Jewish historian, makes much in his Antiquities. The Essen es were the most devoted of all the Jews in their religion but their religion was of a type not directly They separated themselves authorized by the law. even from the Separatists. They did not frequent the temple, although for a time they sent gifts to its coffers and altars. They may have been indebted to disciples of Pythagoras among the Greeks as much as to the Jewish Scriptures for the distinctive features of their religion. They seem to have lived in small communities, at long distance from the larger towns, and
;

Dead Sea. They engaged themselves in agriculture, or bee-keeping, or herding. They disdained all adornment, their dress being such as John the Baptist is described as wearing. They were vegetarians, and abstained from They recognized no social distinctions. There wine. were no rich and no poor. They were brethren, and had all things in common. By them marriage was not
to a considerable extent in the regions of the
tolerated.

The
Christ.

three religions were in force at the birth of

They may be

called three religions because

the adherents of each were separated from the others

by

distrust,

and even hatred.

The Pharisees were

the

154

CREATION' OF THE BIBLE.

most enlightened, the most progressive, and the most engaged in affairs. They were doing the most to shape They the religious and social destiny of the nation. were the ones with whom the coming Christ would have most in common. Meanwhile, and for a long time, the religious teachThe ers of the people were not absent or idle. Scribes, of whom perhaps Ezra at the exile had been the first, formed a body of men who paid attention to the explanation of the law and interpretation of its difficulties. They had attained great authority among In general the people. They sat in Moses' seat. there were two opposing or at least unsympathetic
of these schools, or " houses, " as they seems to have been founded by a very This man wise and virtuous man, Hillel by name. extended the authority of the Scribes, while at the same time he himself exercised his authority in the mildest fashion. His precepts are some of them of the sort found in the Sermon on the Mount. The Talmud tells us that once, when a heathen asked Hillel to show him the whole of the Jewish religion in a few words, he answered "Do not unto others that which thou would st not should be done to thee this is the whole extent of the law all the rest is merely explanation of it. Go now and learn to understand that." A teacher able and wise enough to teach after that manner is one who, like the great prophets of an earlier time, can underschools.

One

were

called,

:

:

;

stand and express the substance of religion, overlaid and obscured as it is by unspeakable masses of tradition and performance. A very melancholy spectacle was always in sight
of

the

thoughtful

Jew during

this

period.

With
we have

the advent of the Greeks there had come, as

OTHER INFLUENCES.
seen,

155

an assimilation of Greek ideas and Greek manThere had ensued upon the Roman alliance a new admixture. Galilee had for a long time been known as a gathering place or district Many Jews dwelt in Galilee, but they of heathen. were mostly infected with the manners, and to some extent the morals, of the heathen. Away from Jerusalem, and in the smaller cities and villages, there were multitudes who had become indifferent to the laws of the Jews. There were many persons who were ready and glad to gain wealth by favoring the cause of the Romans, and to extract money from their Jewish brethren by the taxes.
ners and customs.

And

so, at

the time of the beginning of the mission

of Jews were in the land, disowned by the Pharisees and by the priests, and left untaught and uncared for. There was no religious teacher who seemed to give any attention to this multitude. All that was done was to withdraw from any association with them. They were Jews by birth, but on account of their lax morals, and their inattention to the demands of the law, they were cast adrift from Judaism to fare as they might. To this result had the mixing of the Jews with other nations, during a period of four centuries, brought religion. The religious were few. The people had to a large extent grown cold toward the rites of the temple, and toward the sacred traditions. The advocates of religion, whether Pharisees, Sadducees, or Essenes, had In a way, little hold upon these disowned masses. these Jews were infidels. They were classified as " sinners," and to the pious Jew a sinner was a horror. But there was coming, and in fact was already arrived, one who was to look upon these disowned multi-

of Christ, a

number

156
tudes in a

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
new way.

He

would look upon them as
If the
strictly
reli-

sheep destitute of a shepherd.
gious people, the Scribes

and Pharisees, may have been expected to be the friends and helpers of this new teacher, the expectation will be disappointed. The coming teacher of Israel will find his friends and the
subjects of his teachings in these " lost sheep of the house of Israel." Thus a new career will begin in Judaism. Israel, which has been trained for some centuries in the school of a haughty exclusiveness,

a new and divine teacher, who will go with tender and winning solicitude to these " lost," and thus establish that new religion in which all the heathen, and all the " lost," shall have their part.
will give birth to

XIV.
THE NEW AGE.
some military posts, sunrise is greeted with the and the day dismissed in like manner The sun itself makes no noise in its risat sundown. ing, and may be said to be unobserved by the most of people but military and other persons sometimes
firing of a gun,
;

At

make much

noise in the world.

At

certain times

their noise is contemporaneous with the rising or the

Eras are sometimes ushered in by by revolution and downfall of nations and sometimes the new eras come quietly enough. They are not known to have come when they are actually here. It is left to the future to look back and declare
setting of suns.
;

tumult

;

that at such a time the
(

The

greatest era in

new era came. human history, compared with

which all previous eras were relatively insignificant, was born in troublous times, to be sure, but without
attracting the attention of any single soul of

mam)
be

There are
said, that

stories well

known by

all

Christendom, and
this is to

made much
these stories

of

by

all Christians, of

which

they were the growth of later years.

To
are

we

will give little credit, provided

we

studying the Bible as we study any other literature.
Precisely such stories

we

we reject as unhistorical when them in the scriptures of other Oriental peoples. Now we are endeavoring to study the Bible as we would study any religious book. We are trying
find

158

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
and the things which are
as
unhistorical.

to discriminate in its history the things which are historical

This

we can do only
tion as

we apply such a mode

of investiga-

we find best adapted to the purpose of literary and historical criticism. So we think of the beginning of the greatest era of human history as coming unobserved by the multitude, and really unobserved by any one. The kingdom of heaven cometh without observation. Now there are two widely distinct fields of thought the one is the
:

physical, including all that belongs to the recurrence

of seasons, days

and

nights,
is

and the events which
must
strike

oc-

cur in them

;

the other

the spiritual, including the

principles of religion.

It certainly

any

one who knows anything of the teachings of Jesus that his work and thought were almost exclusively in the In the physical sense, and as regards spiritual realm.
the physical facts, he was the child of a humble paren-

But with these and such like the Jews. was not greatly interested. His mind moved in the realm of spiritual verities, the realm which may be called the kingdom of heaven. His conduct and his words wT ere of that realm. He spoke of himself as His assumption of this rank has the Son of God. been regarded as a most serious statement in the realm of physics, both by his followers and by opponents. Yet there is no recorded saying of his which in any measure justifies the belief that he believed himself to be the
tage

among

facts he

Son

of

God

in the physical sense.

If we, with the

light of greater

knowledge of things physical than his contemporaries had, are careful to discriminate between
;

the physical and the spiritual

if

we are capable

of

recognizing a spiritual power in ourselves, and a capawe need not be city for religion, or the spiritual life,

THE

NEW

AGE.

159

puzzled by those mysteries which for

many

centuries

have caused offense to the learned and the thoughtful. He who makes the claim of being the Son of God when he is not is a deceiver, and ought to be so ranked. That is one evident principle. Another is that, in such an age as that wherein Jesus Christ was born, there are very few who will be able to understand the claimant of a divine sonship except in the
physical sense.

While an obscurity
life

rests

upon the
through

actual history of Jesus during his

in the world, suf-

ficient of the light of his divine life shines out

the clouds to assure any reverent soul that he was in

very truth what he claimed to be, the Son of Godr The evidence that he was the Son of God in the physical sense
if
is,

to say the least, exceedingly slender
it

;

but

that evidence were perfect,

would add no weight
that all

or authority to his teachings in the spiritual realm.
If in the study of the Bible
its

we had found

statements are infallibly correct, so that in no case

ever, there

was a blunder made in respect to any matter whatsowould then be no appeal from the slight

evidence given of the divine parentage of Jesus in a physical sense. So long as the Bible holds that place
in the regard of

therein

is

final

any one, that whatsoever is found and not to be doubted, there will be

no question respecting the birth of Jesus.
be regarded as the Son of

He

will

God

in the sense of religion

and

in the sense of physics.
is

Bible

But once see that the not infallible, that there are errors in it which

confess themselves to any person of judgment, and

forthwith the question in regard to Jesus and his relation to nature will arise.
If

real service to us,

our study of the Old Testament has been of we have seen that above all other

160

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

books, because

it is the book of religion, the Bible ought to be read with discrimination. That is to say,

we

are not to take all of
If

its

statements as of equal
it
it.

value or equal truth.
crimination,

we do not read
the value of

with disIt ma}'

we
:

fail to get at

be said that readers of the Bible read with two different motives the one class reads for the purpose of seeing exactly what the Bible says, without a care as
to the particular nature of the saying
;

the other class

reads to

know

not only what

is

said,

but

if

possible

why
tion,

it

was said. (The one method is that of superstiand the other is that of reason, and for the pur-

pose of instruction.
for himself,
if

Now,

that all of the statements

of the Bible are not of equal truth

any one can see

he will but give attention.

fifty-first

Let any one read the Psalm with attention. There is perhaps nothing in the world which will so touch the heart of a sinful man, who is repentant, as that matchless hymn. By some editor of the hymns of Israel it was attributed to David, and surmised that it was written by the conscience-stricken king after the commission of a great crime. It was such a hymn as the king certainly might have written under those circumstances or any one else, for that matter. But there
illustration offers itself.
;

An

are sentiments in
later time.

shall

it which are believed to belong to a However, the hymn was edited, as we It was "improved" by a later surely see.

hand.
tion.

The sentiment of the hymn is one of deep contriThe writer of it has discovered himself to be
evil.

exceedingly
iniquity;

He

is

appalled at the vision of his
of a holy

and since he has the idea

God,
fel-

he

feels

he has offended, not so

much

against his

THE

NEW

AGE.

161

low human beings as against God's goodness. More than all else in the world he desires to be cleansed from his iniquity. He does not see how he can be He does not see how he can do it himself, cleansed.

and he prays the merciful and
hopes that

just

God

God

will not hide his face

to do it. He from him that
;

God

will blot out all his iniquities, will create

heart in him, and renew a right spirit

a new within him.

So far we need have no difficulty in interpreting the hymn, which so vividly expresses our own feeling of contrition when we are convicted of our own sinfulness.

The
sin,

writer, in considering his

to rid himself

of

the burden

perceives that sacrifices

own case, and how and defilement of his upon the altar will do

no good.

priestly regulations that guilt

was an important part of the would be done away by It was the law which the priestly party sacrifices. had always sought to make binding upon the consciences of the people; but the writer of the hymn, whoever he may have been, did not believe it. He saw no relation between his sinfulness and the sacrifice This is his testimony of animals upon the altar. " Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and upTrue,
it
:

spirit. O Lord, open thou and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it thou delightest not in burnt offering: the sacrifices a broken and a contrite of God are a broken spirit The meaning heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." It is summed up in the deep sense is perfectly plain. of evil, in the appeal to God to cleanse the soul from

hold

me

with thy directing

my

lips,

;

its sin

;

in the affirmation that

God

does not wish sac-

rifices, else

would they have been given, and that the

162
sacrifices of

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
God
this

are contrition on the part of the sin-

ner.

So

far,

good.

Now

comes the

later
it

hand

to

"improve"

beautiful psalm, so that

may

pro-

perly find a place in the

hymns

of the Jews,

and be

acceptable to the priests as well as to the sinners. " Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion build thou
;

the walls of Jerusalem.

Then

shalt thou be pleased

with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then shall they offer
bullocks upon thine altar."

Now

the contrite sinner
if

said as distinctly as possible that,

burnt offerings

God, he would have tried to get rid of his sense of sin by offering sacrifices but he was deeply convinced that such things as sacrifices He felt that his own contrition and are of no avail. horror of his sins were precisely the sacrifices God wished, but the man who " improved " the hymn was of a different mind. He believed in sacrifices. He thought God believed in them, too and, by so much as he could, he unsaid the truth of the hymn, and reduced it to simple absurdity. If the first part of that psalm is true, the second part, the addition or " improvement," is not true. If we accept both as

had been acceptable

to

;

;

true, then

we reduce both

to nothing, because these

conflicting statements mutually neutralize each other.

from our experience, so far as it goes, we know first part is the truth and therefore that the addition is irretrievably false, and ought not to be tolerated. It is only as we reject the addition, and put upon it the brand of falsehood, we really believe the truth of the real hymn. The same principle obtains elsewhere. The editors of different portions of the Old Testament undertook to unsay the things in the writings which were not
that the
;

Now

THE
acceptable to them.

NEW

AGE.

163

In the book of Ecclesiastes, the whole sentiment of which is unmistakably against the hope of immortality, the editor added a few words expressive of that hope. The book was to go into the sacred canon, but the sentiment of it was rejected,

and the addition or " improvement " made which would neutralize the objectionable sentiment. One such illustration is as good as an hundred.
doubt that for the purposes of reknowledge, we must bring discrimination to the Bible, and apply it faithfully. yWhat is true of the Old Testament is equally true For the New Testament, while it is the of the New.
be
left in

We cannot

ligion, as well as of accurate

book of the new dispensation, or a new
violent break with the Old.
sation begins,
it

era,

When

the

makes no new dispenIt is

begins as quietly as the dawn.
habits of
expression, the

a forth-putting of the old, in a new vigor and in a
better form.

The

habits

of thought, of the

Jew

persist.

There

is

not a great

blank of centuries between the prophets of the old and the messengers of the new. In fact, the new is brought before us by one in the spirit of an ancient prophet. Where the old age meets the new, we do not enter a realm of things more supernatural than before." We enter a realm in which nature itself begins to assume more of the divine. We do not find the messenger of the new covenant teaching men how they may ascend the height of the heaven, but how they may open their characters and lives to the incoming of the heavenly and the divine. The first historians and biographers, unlike Jesus, of whom they undertook to tell us, were not free

from the notions of their predecessors. They interpret the sayings and deeds of Jesus on the phy-

164
sical side.

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
Instead of being steadied in thought by the

thrown out of balance by visions of the divine interference, as in occasional spasms. Therefore are we bound, if we would
vision of the divine presence, they were

be learners of the truth of Jesus, to bring careful
phers.

dis-

crimination to the study of the words of his biogra-

Here, as elsewhere and as everywhere, it is our reasonable duty to " prove all things, and to hold fast (only) to that which is good."

So far as we know, Jesus Christ made no record of own birth, life, and deeds. Knowing, as he did, the fallibility of his followers, knowing that they were liable to error in important matters, and being compelled to rebuke them often for such errors, it seems proper to assume that, if he had considered the facts
his

of his birth in this world of great importance in the

promulgation of his gospel, he would have taken the work in hand of presenting a veritable autobiography.
to

The

truths of his mission, the gospel he

came

make

in the world, he committed to his followers,

bidding them spread them.
tation, they

He

seems to have been

confident that, in spite of various errors of interpre-

would give forth those fundamental truths which would redeem the world from its sin and misery. He refrained from writing anything himself. When his followers should have fully come into the spirit of his work, they would be able to carry it on, and to transmit it to their successors. His failure to write is the more remarkable because the age was favorable for writing, and Palestine was full of scribes but it may at least show us that he trusted to the spirit of his work, and to the faithfulness of his disciples in carrying
it

on, rather than to writings.

Therefore, for a time, there were no writings of the

THE
new
dispensation, as

NEW

AGE.
call
it.

165
It
is

we may

all

but

certain that an enthusiastic expectation of

Christ's

early return to the earth was very prevalent for a few
If that glorious new kingdom for which they years. had been taught to pray were really coming in a short time, it was useless to commit anything to writing; and so for a time that important work was neglected. In the course of a few years after the death of Jesus
(it

curately

has heretofore been impossible to determine achow many years, though it may be affirmed

that the

number was

less

than eight), a

man

of ex-

traordinary ability and tireless energy, and of considerable learning, joined the ranks of the followers of
Jesus.
secutor,

When we
and

first

of the

discover this man, he most violent type. He

is
is

a perdeter-

mined to crush out .the new religion before it gains such headway as to threaten the religion of Ezra and Nehemiah. To that end he devotes himself with a
singleness
of

purpose, always characteristic

of

the

man.

He

is

present

when

the enraged

Jews stone

to death

their first Christian victim, Stephen.

He

consents to
instead of

that act,
his feet.

and the witnesses

laid

down

their clothes at

It is probable that this scene,

softening his heart toward the Christians, fixed

him

the more in his purpose to exterminate them.
their efficient agent.
efforts to

He is in

league with the authorities at Jerusalem, and becomes

He
He

Jerusalem and

does not wish to confine his its vicinity, but pushes out
plans an attack upon the

into the other cities.

followers of Jesus at the distant city of Damascus, and

on his way thither, when he is blinded by a lightning stroke from the sky, thrown to the ground, and then hears the voice of the persecuted Jesus calling
is

166
to him,

CREATION OF THE

BIBLE.
his course.

and bidding him renounce

He

goes on to Damascus with his company, but he goes to learn, and not to destroy, the religion of Jesus. His
sight is restored to him, and he devotes himself to the study of the new dispensation. He tells us in one of his epistles that he conferred not with flesh and blood,

and that he did not go up to Jerusalem to learn of the disciples there, some of whom had become the apostles of the new religion, but that he retired to Arabia. Now, what he did in Arabia we do not know our
:

natural conjecture
self, after

is

that in solitude he devoted himin

the

manner
its

which he had been trained in
reli-

the school of Gamaliel, to the formulation of the

gion of Jesus, and

relation with the religion of the
;

Jews.

to him,

did not renounce the Jewish religion but more than to any other, we are indebted for the connection we find between the old and the new. He becomes the master-mind in the new movement. He does not find himself in harmony of idea with the apostles at Jerusalem. He is able to take a far more

He

comprehensive view of the religion of Jesus, as the flower and final expression of the religion of the law and the prophets, than these simple-minded and unlearned Galileans.
this advantage,

He perceives that the Jew enjoys namely, that to him have been com-

mitted the precious legacy of the divine oracles.
also perceives that he has received such trust that

He
he

may become
sion the
ness.

a blessing to the Gentiles.

In

this mis-

Jews had dismally failed through their obtusethe time has come for the old promises to be fulfilled. He himself will become the apostle to

Now

the Gentiles.

He

will be the truer

Jew, because he

will carry out the long-neglected mission of the Jews.

And

all this is

made

possible because Jesus

had been

THE
sake of men.

NEW

AGE.

167

born, and taught, and died, a supreme sacrifice for the

Paul does not seem to attach so much importance
to

the teachings of Jesus as to his person.

He

is

altogether entranced, fascinated, and

subjugated by
lasting.

the personality of Jesus.

He

learns to love
it is

a love as deep and enthusiastic as

him with His

greatest ambition, his dearest purpose, in the attain-

ment

of which he is ready to sacrifice every earthly advantage, and even his pride in his nation, is to know

Christ,

to experience Jesus in his
it.
;

own

life,

to live

Christ, as he expresses

For the sayings

of Jesus

he does not so much care he quotes very few, almost none of them. The person of Jesus is so dear to him that he thinks only of living Jesus' life over again, though he feels that he can do that only in an imperfect and fragmentary way. Such devotion is above
that of the other disciples.

Paul began to
fore he did, but

write.

Others

may have

written be-

we have no knowledge

of any such.

He

of thinking

began to put the stamp of his purpose and his way upon the early church. It is entirely possible that he created and greatly stimulated the desire of the people to have a written account of the birth and The expectation life, and deeds and sayings of Jesus. Some of the speedy return of Jesus was waning. doubtless held it strongly, but with some it had become a matter of doubt. Thus began attempts to set forth the biography of Jesus.

The study of these early endeavors is involved in profound difficulty. Yet some progress is made. Our scholars have arrived at the almost if not quite unanimous opinion
that, of the four accounts preserved to us
is

in our Bibles, the second account

the oldest.

It

i<*

168

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
much
reason, that this
is

surmised, and with
first

not the
the
first

detailed account that was made, but

it is

of the four.

Now when

this first of the preserved biographies of

Jesus was written, the notion that Jesus was physically, so to speak, the Son of God had not attained a com-

manding
place
;

influence.

In the multitude of stories afloat

in the popular imagination, that story

may have had
it

a

but the writer of this
it,

first

biographical sketch
as important

did not credit

or he did not regard

therefore he omits all reference to
Jesus, where he or until

The birth of came from, and what he did as a child, he began his mission, secured no notice from
it.

him.

Those things were before the gospel.
did not begin until John

The gospel
After John,

commenced

his preaching of

repentance in the wilderness of Judea.

Jesus makes his appearance and begins to preach in the

same strain. That is to the writer of the very first biography the beginning of the new dispensation. If the gospel is tidings of good, then these tidings of good do not commence to be given with the birth of Jesus, but with the beginning of his preaching.
It

may

be said that this

is

merely an omission on the

part of the evangelist, and that the omission was

made

good by the accounts of the later biographers. Perhaps it is open to any one to take his choice as to whether Mark made an omission, or Luke and Matthew afterwards made an addition. The way of the Jews seems always to have been to make additions. That is the way they " improved " the writings. At
biographer, who responded to the wide influence of Paul, and believed it to be his duty to write the account, omitted the things that the church
all events, this first

THE

NEW

AGE.

169

has held to be vital. One might be justified in concluding that these things are in fact not vital, that they truly have no relation to the divine gospel, and
that the church has been mistaken in that, as it has been in most matters. This fact brings to our view precisely what was Many persons were talking going on in those days. over these things, the life and teachings of Jesus. Many persons were writing accounts or fragments of

accounts.

Into these accounts

we may be reasonably

sure were

we

find

woven many a thread of myth, as indeed and acknowledge in the so-called Apocryphal

books of the New Testament. Wherefore, if it becomes us to read the Old Testament history and all its divers portions with discrimination, it much more becomes us to use discrimination in the New Testament, and its biographies or biographical fragments. The sublime religion of Jesus will be found to shine out through all the mists of myth, which so plentifully arose in those days and it is the religion of Jesus we want, for we believe it is the religion of Jesus which is to save the world. That religion has been buried under a copious mythsubstance long and weary ages. But, the myths being discriminated from the truths, we may hope to see the brightness of Jesus rising once more upon the darkened
;

world.

XV.
THE FIRST CHRISTIAN WRITINGS.

Among the

works of creation, none

is

more

interest-

ing to trace than the making of language.

The spoken

language undoubtedly antedated the written language.

The

preservation of the experiences and the wisdom of

a generation, for the benefit of coming times, was long

The time comes found inadequate, and picture-words come into vogue. Out of the picture-words in due time grow the letters, each being significant, and arbitrarilystanding for a distinct sound. Then come the words,
intrusted to the spoken tradition.

when

this is

made

of combinations of these various signs.

For the preservation
sions are

of these words, certain provi-

made
;

:

the picture-words are cut in durais

ble stone

or a kind of clay

found which

will re-

ceive the impression of a stylus, or other instrument of marking, and may then be baked hard, so as to

be as like stone as possible. The numerous tablets unearthed in ancient Babylonia, Nineveh, and elsewhere, testify to the durability of this method of
preservation.

The moulding of .tablets, and the cutting of inscriptions upon stone, is a slow labor, and after a time proves inadequate for the demands of a people learning to love and use literature.
reasonable
it is found that ready to meet the Providence has always something

Now

demands of human

beings.

Whenever

THE FIRST CHRISTIAN WRITINGS.
possess,

Ill

people are ready for the use of that which they do not

God

inspires

into the mysteries of

some one to look more deeply Nature and take out of her inexis

haustible storehouse the thing that
fore after

needed.

There-

some development of the art of writing, it was found that a reed growing in abundance along the Nile would furnish a supply of papyrus for the writers. The stem of the reed was sliced in such a manner as to make long and narrow rolls of a thin plate, the surface of which, after proper preparation, would take and hold the writing of the scribe. An ink was made from animal carbon and oils, and a reed, sharpened somewhat to a point, was employed for a pen, and so came that form or mode of literature which is fit for libraries. The use of the papyrus spread northward, and had become somewhat common in Greece about the time of Alexander the Great. A considerable manufacture sprang up, and it is said that the reed was cultivated
in

southern Italy.

Rolls or books of papyrus were

discovered in Herculaneum, which were found to con-

works of the Epicurean philosophers. After the early Christians began to find the need of
sist chiefly of

writing the history of Jesus, they had recourse to the

papyrus. ^-^_-It will occur to

any one that the papyrus must in
It
;

the nature of the case prove a very fragile paper.
is

very easily broken if it is passed about from hand to hand, the edges become frayed, and in a short time the writing becomes but faintly legible. It is
probable that the poorest paper
is

now used

for writing
It

much more durable than
first

the papyrus.

becomes

evident that the

writers of accounts of Jesus used

this fragile material for their

work, when we become
extant, and moreover

aware that no original copy

is

172

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
is

that no trace of an original document of the sort

found in the oldest Christian
putation,

literature.

The end

of

the second century of our era was a time of great dis-

when men were
;

talking

much

of the exact

readings of texts

was then that the writings of the Christian scribes were beginning to take rank in the minds of the Christian leaders with the Old Testafor
it

ment books.
letters of

Up to that

time the writings, such as the

Paul and others and the accounts of the deeds and death of Jesus, had not been valued any more than the spoken tradition. Then a new estimation began to be attached to these writings, a value which

the early writers evidently did not anticipate.

Copies of the works of some of the early writers had been made, but the copying was not so carefully done as it had been done by the Jewish scribes, who regarded their office a sacred one, and of a nature that called for the utmost scrupulousness and exactitude. The accounts of Jesus and the epistles of Paul and Barnabas and others were not ranked as parts of the Bible until long after they were written. Hence
there

was lacking that sense

of responsibility in the

copyists which would have been very desirable.

The

time came when better copies were made, and they, while they were copies of copies, bear witness of great
painstaking.
is

They were made upon parchment, which made symmetrically and carefully, and were almost as regular in symmetry and alignment as print. The words were not
durable, and the letters were each

separated from each other, but the
all capitals,

letters,

which were

followed each other, so

and it was left to the reader to from the letters. These fine and durable manuscripts, however, were not made until about the beginning of

many on each line, make up the words

THE FIRST CHRISTIAN WRITINGS.
the fourth century,

173

and the papyrus manuscripts are supposed to have perished. It may be assumed that God prevented any mistake from creeping into the early papyrus accounts ; and that he did not permit the copyists to commit any error,

An

however small ; in fact just that has been assumed. assumption, however, ought to have something in

it, the validity of which we all ought to see at once. It ought to appeal either to our experience or our intuition, or both. This assumption does not correspond with our experience, certainly. For our experience is that men, good and wise, and even spiritually-minded men, do make mistakes. God does not prevent them

from so doing.

The

conviction of

modern

theists is that
all

God

is

the

Creator of the world, and of

things therein.

This

was also the conviction of some of the ancient Hebrew writers. Yet all of God's work of creation, so far at least as we can discern it, is in the realm of the

hymn

incomplete, the imperfect.

The work of
;

the geometriof

cians comes nearer perfection than

any other writing

which we have knowledge but that is because in their Their sphere they have to deal with exact terms. terms are not approximate and fluid, but definite. The terms of a biography are very different life is the hardest of anything to describe, and the difficulty
;

of description increases in proportion as the life

is

higher and more complex.

Therefore,

we ought

to

realize that the early Christian writers

undertook to

write about a life more difficult of description than

any other. They vividly felt that difficulty, or at least some of them did. The superiority of that life shines through all the tales they tell of it. The tales are difficult, and to some impossible, to believe, but the life
it is

impossible to discredit.

174

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
1

John Stuart Mill
ers suffices to insert

says

u
:

The

tradition of follow-

but who among the disciples, or was capable of inventing the sayings ascribed to Jesus, or of imagining the life and character revealed in the Gospels? " Jesus cast forth
to
;

have inserted all have wrought

any number of marvels, and may the miracles which he is reputed

among

their proselytes,

mass of humanity about words had been of the geometrical order, Suppose that exact, and not approximate. exactness of repetition had been the thing he insisted
his sublime thoughts into the

him.

Suppose

his

upon, as necessary to the survival of his religion.

Then indeed we might have looked
said reported exactly.

to see all that

he

Indeed, in that case, either he

would have made his own book, or have secured the" service of some one competent to make exact reports of all that he said, and to have set forth the facts of
his life as accurately as possible for

human
:

pen.

But

do we not catch the feeling he had in regard to his work and word, in the saying reported " The words that I have spoken unto you are spirit and are life7' ? These words of spirit and life are not the words of an exact science, like that infallible science of geometry. They are words which fail of being caught, except in the sense or spirit of them. The words dissolve, just as the living seeds which the sower casts into the ground dissolve. The thoughts expressed filter through a great many minds, and produce varying impressions. The speaker who is most alive, who thrills the breast of his listener with the fire of greatest and most enlightening thoughts, is of all others the one who most eludes accurate report. By reason of the great power of his teaching, and tile greater life of it, he is
1

Essay on Theism, cited by E. Clodd, in Jesus of Nazareth.

THE FIRST CHRISTIAN WRITINGS.

175

more than any other likely to be misreported. The spirit and the life (and these the speaker values,
these alone) persist.

In

all

the Gospels in our Bible,

and in many of the other writings, they have persisted. There is a warmth about them, a vitality, an immortality, which secures their permanence, after the first form of their expression is dissolved away and lost.

Now one fault of our thoughts about the Gospels has been that we have looked in them for a kind of spirWe have not considered the imitual mathematics. possibility of accurate reports of such a life as that. In fact, the church has always imagined Jesus and his True, we life and teachings to be less than they were. have glorified him and his words, and paid to them divine honors, verbally, but we have failed to detach the husk of the report from the kernel of the truth in
the report.
like a flood,

Therefore, since criticism

is

coming in
that
is

sweeping

all

before
of

it

(that

is, all

affected

by the thinking
what
it is

the time),

many

of us

find ourselves afloat in the rising tide,

and not know-

ing at

all

is

coming

of all this investigation.
:

Of
be-

one thing
to

possible to be sure

that those

who

lieve in the spirit

and truth of the words

of Jesus, in our

and

whom

his life is a revelation of

God

human

society, will discover the truth

and more practical
going on.

to them,

and life made clearer by the sifting process now
is

The very

object of sifting
distinction, the

to separate,

and bring into clearer
It has

permanent and

the transient elements of religion.—-^

been held that the four Gospels were written
;

by the persons whose names appear in the titles but The writers of the the titles were added by editors. Gospels did not attach their names to their writings but later men, judging by such information as they

176
possessed,
is

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
as we now find them. So it Matthew wrote the first Gosa man named John Mark, a companion of Pe-

added the

titles,

held that the Apostle

pel;
ter,

and sometime of Paul, the second Luke, a phyThese three are known in criticism as the " synoptic " Gospels, because the three seem to " see together." Now there is no surety that Matthew wrote the first Gospel, the Gospel which bears his name in the title. It is more probable that Luke wrote the third Gospel, and we depend mainly upon untrustworthy tradition in ascribing the authorship of the second Gospel to Mark. It does not signify very
;

sician, the third.

much

(except to the critic) who wrote them. Proceeding upon the great probability that the Gospel ascribed to Mark's authorship is the earliest of the four, we perceive, by a comparison of it with the others, the evidence of a growth of sentiment and traThe ground, in its most dition with respect to Jesus.
fertile localities, is

growths than
estine,

is

the

not more productive of vegetable human mind and imagination of

notional growths.

among

the

common

Jesus had sown broadcast in Palpeople, the principles of a

His personality had been the most the most influential, the strongest, of any that had ever appeared. That there would not be a crop of stories of multiform sorts after such a mission could
great religion.
vital,

be expected by no one. The first account does not introduce any of these stories concerning the life of Jesus before he began his mission. That account of the beginning of that mission shows us the material out of which the larger stories afterward grew.

John the Baptist appeared

in the

Judean wilderness,

preaching repentance to the people; and the people were greatly stirred by him. They felt that such pro-

THE FIRST CHRISTIAN WRITINGS.
phetic utterances portended great results.

Ill

They went

out to him in flocks, and listened to his preaching, and

were baptized in the Jordan, confessing their sins. This mission of John meant a great deal to the people, but to none could it have meant so much as to Jesus. The fame of it had spread into the north country, and Jesus was impelled to go to John and with the others he was baptized. That did not excite the notice of John, so far as we know from Mark. The multitudes were baptized, confessing their sins but it seems that Jesus received his baptism in another way, as a conAccording to the secration to his own great work. simple account of Mark, Jesus went down into the water, and as he came up out of it, he saw the heavens rent, and the Spirit descending like a dove upon him. That is what he saw; and in the nature of the case it was seen by no one else. The heavens did not rend, because such things do not happen. The sky is not a tent or canopy over us that there should be a rending of it asunder. Here was at last the Man who was able to look into the heavens, whose life was not an earthly one, but destined to be a heavenly one. The fact cannot be stated in terms of physics without setting aside the spirit of the law and the prophets. But it was the genius of the age to make of such things physical phenomena. The pure and grand and real vision of Jesus, thus beginning upon his great career, was afterward made to be no vision at all, but a happening in the world of matter. As we read the third Gospel, we see the encroachment of that physical idea. Luke tells us that he made great inquiry,
;

;

and attained a more

satisfactory history of the affairs
It is

of Jesus than previous writers.
tradicts the sentiment of the

Luke who

con-

law and the prophets,

178

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

or the spirit of them, by adding to the previous ac-

counts the very thing which ought Viot to have been
in

He declares that the Holy Spirit descended a bodily shape, like a dove. That is like the tales of the heathen, and does not accord with the testimony God is not to be represented in a bodily of Israel.
added.
form, since so to represent him
represent him.
is

inevitably to mis-

Instead of a vision of the descent of

God's Spirit bringing peace, Luke gives an account God in a bird This is distinctly To the heathen, and neither Jewish nor Christian. careless reader it seems a slight modification, but to one who absorbs the spirit of the Gospels, and of the revelation before the Gospels, it is a sad corruption^^ It will be well to consider, as we may, the earlier history of Jesus. He had this earlier history, and some incredible accounts of it are given but we can for man's life is a somesuppose the credibilities thing we know much about. Trained in the synagogue, and becoming full of the feelings of the prophets, Jesus has passed his childhood and youth in the secluHe has thought out and sion of his Galilean home. The prophetic utterances felt out the secret of God. have not been mere words to him, but they have
of the incarnation of
!

;

;

enlightened his soul.
later years,

If

we penetrate

the spirit of his

we

at the

same time penetrate the educa-

tion of his earlier years.

" There is a spirit in man, and the spirit of the Almighty giveth them understanding." Jesus reaches the age of manhood, when the young Jewish man attains his majority, but he has no career and for such as he a career is the one necessity. He can no longer live in quietude and seclusion. He must be about his Father's business. To receive from God is
;

THE FIRST CHRISTIAN WRITINGS.
to give.

179
;

He

has not yet received the full vision

he

has not yet found his work.

Therefore he has had no

opportunity of giving.

Meanwhile John is raising his voice in the south. His fame spreads far and wide. He is like one of the prophets of the olden time. He may be one of the He greatest of the prophets, risen from the dead. He does not go to the haunts is not to be silenced.
of

men

;

his voice, crying in the wilderness, "

Make
calls

straight a

way

for the Lord,"

is

commanding, and

men

out to him.

He

believes, he of all Israel, the

divine promises.

These promises are now hastening to fulfillment. feels that he is not mighty enough for his work but there will be another to take it up, mightier than he. This mightier one will winnow the chaff away from the wheat. Jesus comes to him he has his mis-

He

;

;

sion at last.

He

receives his consecration to

it.

He

finds that the heavens, before closed even to him, are

no longer
him.

closed, but opened.

or withdrawn.

God

is

present,
is

Those whose thinking

is no longer away, and God abides upon more materialistic than

God

spiritual cannot possibly conceive the experience of Je-

sus at that supreme time.
flying

They can think of a dove They can think of him as driven into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. But to think of him as retiring to the loneli-

down and

alighting on him.

ness of the desert, there to feel the awful pressure of
his mission, the awful temptation of
it,

— the tempta-

tion to
his

make

use of his great thoughts and powers for

so as

own glorification and advantage, that they cannot much a3 think of. That is a closed volume to them, it may well have been to Luke.
his friends

What things Jesus told

— those closest to

180

CREATION OF THE

BIBLE.

him

— of

his first divine experiences, of his ecstasy,

of his peril

in turn told to others.

from real temptation in the desert, they And so grew up that phantasm of a bodily shape of God descending from the opened heavens and the visit of the Persian evil divinity, Satan, to confront and if possible to conquer the Son The facts which were inward and real the of God.
;

popular imagination inclosed in a dress at once fantastic

and unreal

;

but the facts are there.

Considreadily

ering the age in which they occurred,

we can

conceive that they could have come to us in no other
dress.

and in do with the fantastic mythand those dress in which the popular imagination recorders of the popular imagination, the writers of
of Christ, both in letter
to
spirit,

But the teachings show us what

the three Synoptic Gospels

— clothed them.

We are to

winnow them,

we would know them in their spirit and reality. By such judgment and superior information as God has given us, we are to wisely discriminate
if

between the writers' stories of the incarnation of God in a dove, and the visit of Satan, and the deep experiences of Jesus which gave rise to those stories.)

We

value the

life

and teachings

of Jesus for their

inherent worth.

J. Stuart Mill,

prepossessed in favor of the

who does not seem Christian doctrines, when

New Testament is convicted of the immense value of the real teachings of Jesus, and the loveliness and excellence of his life. The zeal of followers and of their proselytes may suffice, he tells
he reads the
marvels told in the accounts but underneath these strange marvels is the life, is the truth. The things told do not seem true.— Suppose we could take one of the Gospels, say the
us, for the strange

;

THE FIRST CHRISTIAN WRITINGS.
third,

181
is

and change

all

the

names

of

it.

The scene

not laid in Judea, but somewhere in central China.

We will give Chinese names to the cities and villages, and replace Jewish by Chinese customs and costumes. We will sufficiently change the wording of the parables to retain their spirit, but not their appearance, and then present our book to the intelligent reader. He
may be
is

a devout Christian.

The

great probability

that he will

look upon the book as a fairy tale,

containing, however, excellent moral sentiments.

No

conviction of the reality of the marvels told will force

upon his mind and conscience. He will perhaps wonder where the book came from, and as to its authorship, but it will be a fairy tale, from beginning to end. Jesus knew the age in which he lived. He was continually combating the unreal ideas of it. Nevertheless, that age was the soil in which he was to sow his life, his character, and his teachings. The sower went forth to sow. Some of the seed lodged in the good ground and brought forth plentifully. Yet what the sower sows, identically what he sows, never comes up. In the place of the word sown rises the plant of an apprehension of it, and
itself

this

may

bear

little
is

resemblance to the original word.
it

The value of it So we have the

that

contains the original truth.

vision of Jesus at his baptism, seeing

the open heavens, hearing the divine voice, the descent
of the Spirit to abide

upon him.

That

is

the origi-

Out of the ground, grew in
nal truth.
in a dove.

that, as out of

a seed cast into

after years the divine incarnation

That
it

is

the plant.

The plant grows up,
finally to thresh

and
out:

is

tenderly cherished, until like other things of a

living sort

grows

ripe,

and ready

we winnow

the original truth, the living germ,

182

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

from the plant which has come to be dry and unprofitable. When we make our winnowing process thorough,
as

we

are taught to do,

we

rediscover the truth of the

great vision.

At
fire

now

dried plant,

the same time,
stalk, chaff,

we

cast
all,

and

— that

from us the
being

burned in the
Jesus,

of our reasonable criticism.

Here therefore, at the very outset of the mission of we encounter the necessity of discerning between The kernel and the husk septhe flesh and the spirit. arate and the value is left, and the thing which has contributed to the permanence of the truth, having
fulfilled that purpose,

goes the

way

of all transient

things.

I take

it

to be demonstrable that the age in

Jesus planted Jesus and Paul was fit, in the main, for nothing but the outward form of a gospel. It was by that outward form the inward fact was preserved

which

through the ages of Christianity thus far, the truth of God in Christ has been inclosed in legendary wrappages.

Again, I take
;

it

that

God

is

the ordainer of
fit

times and seasons

so that

whenever the

time comes

for the re-sowing of the ancient truth in the soil of the

whole world, the truth will be made to emerge from its envelopment, and again cast as good tidings of great
joy into the mind of the world.
x

XVI.
THE SPIRITUAL
BASIS.

A

religion

subject of peculiar tenderness in the Christian The freedom of speech is the birth of Jesus.
its full

necessary to

discussion does not belong to our
is

present public propriety, but
scientific investigation.

appropriate only to

It is a difficult

and

delicate

matter, and one that might be avoided,, except that the creeds of Christendom have enshrined belief in

the miraculous conception of Jesus in the dearest re-

gard of the church. There are not a few who feel that doubt of the miraculous birth of Jesus is doubt o£ the sum and substance of .the religion of Christ. generally supposed that the miraculous birth \ It is of Jesus is one of the best proven of the facts of religion. The Apostles' Creed, which seems the simplest and most comprehensive of any of the belief statements of the church, puts belief in the virgin birth of Jesus with belief in God and redemption and immortality. Therefore it has assumed the place of a fundamental faith. If any one doubts or disbelieves that, he has renounced the faith. Gradually a change is taking place with reference to the fundamental beliefs of the church. It is not that many deny these beliefs, for that has always occurred in greater or less measure but that inside the limits of the church itself
;

the inquiry has risen, and
of the

is

rising

still,

as to the

proof or the necessity for the notion of the virgin birth

Son

of

God.

184

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
the proof of this teaching

is demanded, found to be exceedingly slender. The fact that the church has believed the doctrine offers no proof, of course. In matters of science the church, without being necessarily blamable, has held errors as though they were truths. As to the rising and setting of the sun, so common a thing as that, the church was universally mistaken for many centuries. It may, however, be said that the rising and setting of the sun is not a religious matter. True it is equally true that no phenomenon of nature with which science has to do is a religious matter. The birth of a human being, or a partly human being, from a virgin is a matter not of faith, but of science. It is something which has to do with natural laws in the realm of physics, v If valid scientific proof is adduced that such births have taken place, or that one such birth has taken place, that becomes an established fact in science but it still does not touch the hem of the garment of religion. Or if it does touch the hem of the garment in which religion has clothed itself, it belongs only It belongs to scito the garment, not to the religion. it is
;

Now when

ence to determine,

if

it

ever

is

able to determine,

whether such an event as that related by two evangelists and recited in the Apostles' Creed has actually taken place. When it is determined by a perfectly unanimous consensus of all scientific men (supposing such a consensus to be attainable), the matter will still be foreign to the religion of Jesus, it will still have to be classified with the data of science. If we begin with the belief of the church, it may be as well for us to begin where that belief is the largest. may therefore say that at the time of the Reformation of Luther there was practically but one opinion in Christendom upon the subject.

We

THE SPIRITUAL
Whatever doubt
existed
infidelity, or so for the

BASIS.

185

was the doubt of a silent most part. The Roman, the Greek, the Armenian, and the various Protestant churches were at one in belief of the virgin birth of Jesus. When, however, we go back to the time of Constantine, at the beginning of the fourth century, we do not find the church unanimous in its belief about anything. And if we go farther into the past, so as to reach the first believers, we find no evidence that any one believed in the virgin birth of Jesus. The first writer of the New Testament is Paul, and he nowhere indicates that he had any such belief. It seems quite incredible that if he had entertained the notion he should not have taken pains somewhere in his many writings to mention it. The second writer, known as Mark, does not mention it and what is more, later writers, such as the author of the epistles of Peter, of Jude, of John, of the Apocalypse, and of the fourth Gospel, do not make allusion to it. Now the makers of the Apostles' Creed regard the virgin birth a great and necessary doctrine. They rank it with the being of God and with immortality. They place the statement of it in a point of great prominence, as one of the things to be laid to heart. In so doing they depart from the spirit of the gospel by in;

troducing a subject of physical philosophy as belonging to the substance of Christian faith, vjn thus im-

posing upon the belief of the church a

scientific

dogma

they change the church into something very different

from the church of Paul and the apostlesTX There is no difficulty in seeing how the belief came. It can be accounted for as easily as almost any phenomenon in history. Take Mark's simple account of the baptism. Jesus comes to the baptism as no other

186

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
He
see the Spirit.

one did or could.

and can
is

can look up into the heaven, He can hear the voice, " This

my

well beloved Son."

He

is

the

first

in

human

history

who has been
first in

able to look

up and

see

what he

saw, and the
of

human
tells

history to hear the voice

God
in

testifying that he

is

the

Son of God.
story,

The

way

which

Mark

this

the emphasis

which in various forms the three Gospels lay upon testify that it was one of great significance to Jesus. Whatever he may have seen and felt before, he at last sees and feels that he is the Son of God. It does not occur to him that he is not at the same time a son of man. It would be foreign to what we know of him, to that light which shines out of him, to think he disowned an earthly Infather because he asserted the Heavenly Father.
this scene,

deed,

we may

see in his feelings, at the time of his

initiation into his work,

the lips of Paul.

Paul
v

what we afterward hear from is guarded enough in his lan-

guage, but he does not hesitate to say that a son of

God may be
that a son of

identified,

simply by his obedience to the

Spirit of God.

He does not say, and does not think, God is one who has no human father
it
;

that has nothing to do with

but " so

many

as are

God.^J Here is Jesus, who is ready to be led by the Spirit of God, who sees, in his ecstasy, the Spirit of God descending out of the open heavens to guide him, and who accepts that guidance, and thus knows that he is the Son of God. For the acceptance of the Spirit to abide with him brings the voice, " Thou art my beloved Son."
I think

led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of

of Jesus,

we do not measure the greatness of the faith if we look upon him as a supernatural being.

THE SPIRITUAL

BASIS.

187

the wilderness, to his tempand find him making a real conquest there, if at the same time we behold in him the superhuman will displacing the human. We shall have something to go by, and a hold will be established upon
tation,

We do not follow him into

our sympathies,

if

we

see

him bearing the temptations

which befall us human beings, and cannot befall God. That which distinguishes Jesus has been made to be some fact, or assumed fact, in his physical nature. It has been held in the dearest regard that he was physically the Son of God, and that he was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows because he had no human father. It was the conviction of some one, whose words have come down to us, that he was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows, that he had his distinguishing superiority because he That turns loved righteousness and hated iniquity. our attention upon his inward experiences, rather than upon his physical ancestry. A man loves and hates if he loves what he ought to love, and hates what he ought to hate, he has that superiority above his fellows which cannot but be recognized. Such an one has a claim upon us he is made a real authority to us. Such a man becomes God's voice to us. His inward experience, his inward light, his inward love and hatred, these are of supreme importance but
;
:

$

his earthly father

is

not of importance/)

(Now

since Jesus felt the presence of the Spirit of

God, and heard the voice of the Father, addressing him as So*n, he went about his work always with that consciousness. He would not have been true to himself, if he had not always asserted his divine sonship. He would not have had a mission to men, unless he had the divine mission. Less than all could he have

188

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

taught his disciples to pray to the Father in heaven, except he himself felt in all the feelings of his being
that

God was
and
to

his Father.

His mission was based on
into contact with the multias the Spirit

that conviction.
tudes,

He came
them.

them he spake

moved.

He He

did not

tell all to

He came

in contact with the

religious, the scribes, the pharisees, the priests.

spake to them also as moved by the Spirit, but he did not tell all to them. By word of mouth, by manner,

and by the meaning
that,

of all that he said, he

was always

affirming his sonship to God.

He went

farther than

and affirmed that he and his Father were one. the Jews picked up stones to throw at him. He was a blasphemer because he said that, they thought. He referred them to their own Scriptures, in which they professed to believe so thoroughly, and showed them that if the word of God came to anybody, it raised such an one up to divinity. If anybody could listen to God, as he had been listening to God, he would be able to say, " I am a son of God." In fact, he could not say otherwise and be true. In a general way, all Christendom has taken up this word " Father " and applied it to God. But Christendom has never used the term boldly it has been emptied of most of its meaning, when it has been applied to God. We have repeatedly been told, and with many " warnings, that when Jesus applied the word " Father to God, it meant something very different from what we must mean when we apply it to God. We must not dare to apply it as he did. We must first pull the very heart of its meaning out of it, and be exceedingly humble when we use it, and confess that Jesus was the Son of God in a sense impossible to any one else he was the Son of God in the sense that he was an

Then

;

THE SPIRITUAL

BASIS.

189
always

equal person in the divine Trinity.

He was

equal with God, because, except for a provisional humiliation of him, for the purposes of redemption, he

was the eternal God,

in proper person.

What

are we,

worms

of the dust,

and creatures

of a day, that

we

word of intimate relationship as he used it ? We must use the word in another sense, a sense bereft of the great meaning which Jesus put into it. Jesus had no human father. God was his father. But we have human fathers, therefore God is not our father, in the same sense.
should dare for a
to use the

moment

Jesus

is

this connection

reported to^have said a very curious thing in ^ Call no man your father, on the
:

earth; for one

is

did not call any

man on

your Father, the heavenly." He earth his father and on one
;

occasion he refused to call any

woman on

earth his

mother.

do not therefore affirm that he had no mother. If his friends had understood him, and declined to call any man on earth their father, but to
call

We

God

their Father,

we should not therefore

infer

that they were without
It is evident

human

parentage.

that Jesus affirmed his relationship very positive words: he affirmed with equal strength the potential co-relationship of other

with

God

in

men with him. This last teaching, however, seems to have been lost sight of, while the first teaching, falling into the ground of a gross age, not more gross than other ages, but certainly not a spiritual age, developed the plant of the story of the birth of Jesus from a virgin. This story had not developed in the time of Mark, or if it had, he did not credit it. It came to flower in the account of Luke. Luke faithfully gathers not only such elements of the matter as had

grown

in the Christian

imagination in a prose form,

190

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

but also certain poems in which the Christian imagination had manifested itself.

were well to of MatIt is much briefer, and it bases the popular thew. ideas of past occurrences, or the truth of them, upon the sayings of the prophets long before. A thorough Jew seems to have been the writer of Matthew's one who delighted in genealogies, and who account, weighed the words of the prophets somewhat after the
it

Before examining Luke's account,

note that earlier account which bears the

name

manner

of the rabbins.

To him

the proof of the truth

had grown up since the death of Jesus, lay with the prophets. In particular, one of the great prophets had foretold the birth of a son, to be called Immanuel, to a virgin. But that this was a forced way of reading the prophets is at once
of that imagination, which

one will take the trouble to read the parprophecy for himself. At one time a certain Ahaz was king of Judah and against him arose the They went king of Israel and the king of Syria. up to Jerusalem to lay siege to it. The king of Judah was in much disturbance of mind because of this coalition against him, and a prophet was sent by the word of the Lord to talk with him and comfort him, and assure him that the danger would be averted. So the prophet bids Ahaz not to be faint-hearted because " of the two tails of the smoking fire-brands," as he Then the Lord said to Ahaz, calls the two armies. " Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God ask it either Ahaz declined in the depth or in the height above." to ask a sign. Then the prophet said, "The Lord himself shall give you a sign behold a virgin shall conceive and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he
visible, if

ticular

;

;

;

THE SPIRITUAL
may know
to refuse the evil
shall

BASIS.

191

For before the child

know

and choose the good. to refuse the evil and

choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings."
if

Now we should suppose, Matthew had not quoted this passage in a prophecy, to prove that Jesus was born of a virgin, that the prophet meant that before a new-born child should know the difference between good and evil, the danger which threatened Judah would surely be averted. When we know that the word " virgin " is sometimes applied, not literally, but to young women, whether
married or unmarried, the statement of the prophet reduces to this word of promise addressed to King Ahaz. The child was to be born soon, and before the
child should be able to discern between good

and

evil,

the deliverance should come.

Now
it

to take
fit

a state-

ment out

of its context

and make
it

a case in hand
If the author

may

be rabbinical, but

is

not safe.

of Matthew's Gospel

had given the context, he would

have been obliged to date the birth of Jesus in the
time of Ahaz, king of Judah.
offered to Ahaz,

For the sign was and before the child could know the difference between good and evil, Ahaz would be out Here, as in other places, we may of his difficulty. conclude that the Spirit'of God taught Matthew a new or that because Matthew did distort use of prophecy
;

a statement of Isaiah, the seal of divine approval

is

put upon such distortion

;

but

if

we proceed

to read

the Bible without discriminating so plain an error in

judgment, on the part of the evangelist, we are not likely to read any portion of the Bible with great profit.; Because, as we have already seen, the Bible, being the most important of all literature, demands our most careful discrimination and our best judgment. "^

192

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
in his account of the childhood

Matthew embodies

of Jesus the story of the slaughter of infants in Beth-

lehem, and refers to a prophecy, of which this slaughter

was the fulfillment. He also tells us that Joseph and Mary take the young child down into Egypt to This journey of the holy escape the power of Herod. family, he tells us, was in fulfillment of a prophecy which says, " Out of Egypt have I called my son." Now the only distinct statement of prophecy to any such effect is found in Hosea. Turning to that, we read these words " When Israel was a child, then I The loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." manner of the prophetic utterance is such that the
:

unprejudiced reader at once recognizes Israel as the
son referred to in the prophecy.
Israel, in its child-

hood as a race, was in Egypt and held in a bitter bondage there, as all the traditions of Israel affirmed. Jehovah had mercy on the enslaved people, called Israel his son, broke the bondage, and brought the people out of Egypt. Now the writer who could apply that language to the flight of the parents of
Jesus into Egypt proves himself lacking in the apprehension of the prophets. Possibly he had taken lessons from the rabbins, or a class of them, and regarded
the prophets as puzzle-makers, instead of teachers of

God and
^--If

righteousness.

we read the Bible with the kind

give other books,

— that

of attention

we

is,

with critical attention, or

in the use of free

sible not to see the

judgment, then it will be imposvery peculiar character of some of

the stories of the infancy of Jesus, told us in the

Gospel.

There are magi in the East,

— three

first

wise

men, learned in astrology, who see the star of a king in the sky. There is no difficulty in identifying such

THE SPIRITUAL
sight as belonging to astrology.

BASIS.

193
fol-

These three magi

low the star, which seems to move before them, until it comes to stand over where the young child is. Since astronomy has replaced astrology, and has become a
sober science,
it is

generally understood that our birth

under
it

this or that planet or star,

and the influence
;

thereof upon

our destiny,

is

purely visionary

or that

belongs, to ignorant superstition, by pandering to

which, pretenders extract
tive as a

money from
is

victims.

The

story of the star in the east

beautiful

and

instruc-

poem, but

it

does not appear to belong to

the realm of prose facts.

We may see in it the
To pay

plant
divine

which grew honors to the Son of God, the King of Israel and of the world, made the composition of such legends neces-

up after the death of Jesus.

sary, at the time.

We

have an affectional interest in
first

these legends, but they do not satisfy our judgment.

Luke
Gospel.

is

very different from the writer of the
is

He

not so wedded to Judaism.
in the prophets of Israel.

He

does
oc-

not find so

much

His

cupation and his travel abroad

among

other people

broaden his ideas. Therefore he omits the tales of Matthew, perhaps classing them with those more untrustworthy accounts, of which there were many. He accepts Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus. That has become firmly rooted in the Jewish-Christian mind. Bethlehem was the place for a prince of the house of David to be born therefore Jesus was born
;

there.

But we have in Luke the poetry and prose which grew up concerning the events preceding the birth of Jesus and John. Their mothers meet, and have a
conversation together.
tion
is

A

portion of this

conversa-

carried on in a very high strain of poetry.

To

194

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
Both women,
if

talk in poetry implies the
art.

employment of the dramatic we make history out of it, have studied their respective parts, and committed them to memory, as do players who go upon the stage. To
suppose any such thing as that
of the subject.
is

beneath the dignity

When we

looked into the book of

Job, in the Old Testament,
that

we saw plentiful evidence we were reading a dramatic poem, with epilogue and prologue, and not history. Why should we fail

to discriminate here also in the story of the two
thers, the poetry of the poet,

of two

women

of Israel ?

moand not the actual talk The very fact that we find

the poetry, and that
it is,

it is set in the connection in which ought to show us that we are not reading history,

but poetry.

We have been very anxious to differentiate between Jesus and other men. We have been solicitous to make for him a rank above that of any other being in the universe, except One. In that we depart, I am sure, from his spirit. Not only so in making for him a physical difference from other men, we have been in danger of losing sight of the real difference. That is a moral and a spiritual difference, and not a physical one. " Being Son of God By eminence of manhood,"
;

puts it, is not being Son of God manhood. We have all the time been assured that Jesus was true and proper man, but we have been required to believe also in his virgin birth, which, if it means anything whatever, means that he was not and could not have been true and proper man. Probably there is a much better statement of the
as Sir

Edwin Arnold
real

by having no

THE SPIRITUAL
divinity of Christ to be

BASIS.
that which

195

made than
from a

grew

up

in the tale of his birth in terms of

virgin.

It is to be

moral character, and not in terms That story did grow, as any student can see and it became the plant of the idea. The plant grew and flourished, has now apparently come to its harvest time, and if we love the plant, rather than the seed-truth of it, it is probable we shall not seek and find the truth of the matter, which
of physical structure.
;

made

alone

is

of value.

,~

Stories of the infancy of Jesus were written

and

read, but the wise counsel of the early church dictated

that these stories be not received into the sacred canon.

and third Gosand that the doctrine of the divinity of Christ should have been permitted to come to us in a form which is actually repugnant to its nature. Whatever was best in the past, it becomes evident that we do not need the story of the virgin birth for the future, and for three reaIt

may have been

well that the first

pels were not

pruned of similar

stories,

sons

:

on exceedingly slender foundation. from the teaching of the Scriptures, which affirm the divinity of man, as man.
1. It rests 2.

It departs

3. It

acter

and

shuts us out of sharing the divinity and charlife of the Son of God, and renders fellow-

ship with him in his mission and sacrifice a dream, and not a practical experience.

XVII.
THE MIRACLES.

The

study of the making of the Bible involves a

consideration of the subject of miracles, which ob-

trudes itself persistently in our

own

time.

Whatever

may

be the standpoint of the observer, it is abundantly evident that a change of mind is going on, with more
or less rapidity, throughout the intelligent portion of

This may be a change for the better, or, as the ultra-conservabut whether for tive think, a change for the worse
the Christian world in regard to miracles.
;

better or worse, time will definitely decide.
for us to

Enough

know

that the change

is

going on, and ceases

not to go on from day to day.
It was only recently said by a thoughtful teacher in one of our great universities, who has achieved a wide reputation as a philosophical thinker, that religion may be said to have already manifested itself in two

ages,

— the age of
;

cult, that is of ritual,

and the age

of

dogma but

that another age has supervened,

— the

age of the meaning of things, the age of a philosophical or rational religion. That age is no longer future, but in sober fact is the present. As to whether the world will lose and religion will be damaged by the transition, many seem to be in a state of suspended

opinion.

It is the idea of
is

that the day of miracles

over,

most of the Protestants and that no miracles
late Cardinal

now happen.

It

was the idea of the

THE MIRACLES.
Newman
concerning that matter.
any, according to
periods,

197

that the Protestants were in serious error

Miracles as well attested as
in recent

Newman, have occurred

and some are perhaps happening at present. The Protestants reject these modern miracles. The issue between them and the Roman Catholics is a
serious one.

Some

Protestants are advancing to anstill

other position, which promises to
the breach,

further widen

to the position that miracles

have not

happened.
a miracle
is

Among

the Catholics the excellence of

believed in so

much

that they desire as

many

as possible.

Among

the Protestants, on the

and now is, to have as few miracles as possible connected with their religion. We must try to explain everything that can be explained thus, on natural grounds. That of itself shows, more than arguments, that a miracle is felt to be a weakness, a something which may prove of damage to us, in the maintenance of
contrary, the effort has been,
its verity.

Thus our

scholars accept miracles in the

Bible, so far as they feel they must, but they continually decrease their

century,
all sects

it

number. In the early part of this was universally held by religious persons of that the history of the world began in a stu-

pendous miracle. Out of the heights of eternal space, God spake creative words, and the earth sprang into being, obediently. Until the work was finished a
succession of miracles followed each other.

The

earth

and the heaven began in a miracle, compared with which all other recorded wonders are as pebbles to
mountains.
people,
\

It

may

safely be said that the stupendous

miracle has been abandoned by almost all intelligent

and that largely because a way

of creation has

been ascertained which does not require miracle, and

198

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
welcomed the discovery almost with

intelligence has

enthusiasm.^ That God, or that being
calls

whom
it

religion

God, as the philosophers
earth,
is

say, created the

heavens

and the

as strongly affirmed as
is

ever was.

Indeed, the affirmation
confidence.

now made with immense
created the heavens and

But

that

God
is

the earth miraculously

not affirmed with any confi-

dence at

all.

That

is

the change which has
to

come about

in

our
is

own

century, with respect
all

miracles.

A

miracle

greater than
attested

others combined, a miracle which

by

plain words of the Bible, has been given
it is

up, so that the defense of

made, for the most part,

by

religious persons of limited intelligence.
it

We

are

told that

is

not necessary to believe that miracle.
strenuously maintain that
it is

By

those

who

we must

believe certain other miracles,

admitted that we

can go free from belief in that one.
credit the great miracle of

Genesis, as

Yet if we diswe now are
There

permitted to do by
is

common

consent, there are other

miracles which confront us later in the Bible.

the standing

still

of the sun at the

captain of

Hebrew

soldiers.

Look

at

command of a it how we may,

we

are unable to see that

than the miracle of need to set limits to almightiness. When we take the liberty of doubting a story, it is not because we wish to diminish the power of God. Certain inhabitants of
I

any easier of credence the creation. Of course we do not
it is

Ireland used to think that on St. Patrick's day the
it had risen, always made two or three bows, honor of the saint. This strange habit of the sun, however, has been obscured to the vision of most people because upon St. Patrick's day clouds always cover the horizon. The bow is made, but mortal eyes

sun, after
in

)

THE MIRACLES.
cannot see
it

199
If

on account of the clouds.
all do, it is
;

any one

doubts the fact, as probably we

not because

we would set limits to the power of God it is somehow obnoxious to our sense of
things, obnoxious to reason

but because
the fitness of

and judgment.

For that

reason
subject.

we do not

give a moment's attention to the

Why

is

not the obeisance of the sun on the

birthday of St. Patrick quite as credible as the standing
still

of the sun at the
?

command

of a

tary officer

If

we

reject the one,

Hebrew miliwe are in a fair

way

to reject the other.

In the same way the voyage of a prophet inside a
great
fish,

not of the cetacean order, as

we

are told,

a voyage continued three days, with the ultimate landcannot coming of the prophet at his destination,

mand our
haps
it is

respect.

We

do not wish to doubt God,
Per-

because we doubt the story of such a miracle.

because we are beginning to believe in God,
the miracle of Jonah.

God, as governing in nature, that There are many other things of a similar sort which attract our attention as we go on reading the Bible. They were all accepted in the belief of the Christian world not very long ago now they are being more and more doubted,
in the laws of

and

we doubt

;

if

not positively disbelieved.
Professor Green, of Princeton, says
:

"

The whole

of English-speaking Christendom

is

upon the eve of

an agitation upon the vital and fundamental question of the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible, such The divinity and auas it has never known before. thority of the Scriptures have heretofore been defended against the outside world of unbelievers, infidels, and skeptics but the question is now raised, and the supreme authority of the Scriptures contested within the
;

200

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

church itself. In the controversies which have agitated the churches of Great Britain and of this country heretofore, the infallible authority of Scripture has been admitted as the ultimate test of doctrine by all contending parties. All made their appeal to this
standard.

The

settlement of every question depended
or upon inferences fairly But now the standard itself is

upon

its

interpretation,
it.

deducible from

brought into question. Utterances which fill the air on every side, and are borne to us from every quarter, from professors' chairs, from pulpits, from the religious press, show abundantly that the burning question of the age is not, What does the Bible teach ? It is one yet more radical and fundamental What is " the Bible ? In what sense is it the word of God ? 1 The great agitation upon a burning question is at bottom a question of the validity of miracles. The world

:

was not made miraculously, as we generally admit. Then was the Bible made miraculously ? That is the
burning question. It bids answered rationally.
fair to

obtrude

itself until

The
is

infallibility of the

Bible being established,
infallibility of
rise of
it

it

a miraculous book; but the The questioned on all hands.
miracle of creation

is

the study of

geology made a sufficient cause for the rejection of the
;

the rise of other

studies, those

critical studies of the

composition of the Bible, and the

proper stratification of the various portions, will probably lead to the rejection of the
libility of the Bible.

dogma

of the infal-

That

is

to say, the earth,

which

may be

said to be the revelation of

being looked upon as not

God in physics, miraculous, much more the

1 Moses and the Prophets, Professor Green's Review of Professor Robertson Smith.

THE MIRACLES.

201

book which is the chief revelation of God in moral and spiritual laws, will cease to be looked upon as
miraculous.
testified to

The tendency

of religious thought, as
is

by our Princeton professor,

elimination of the miraculous.

It is religious

toward the thought
but to

which has come into the

field of conflict,

not to crush

the arguments of skeptics and unbelievers,

affirm the reign of law throughout the universe.

While the tendency is what it is, it must not be supposed that the matter is one to settle offhand. The modification of thought may involve the use of old words in a new meaning. It is possible that the word " miracle " will take on a significance which it has not possessed. It is possible that we shall presently apply
the

word

to

the

wonderful and the mysterious in

nature, rather than to the irruption of supernatural

powers within the scope of nature, to change or break Perhaps it were well also to the laws of nature. examine anew this very word " nature " itself, to see what its history has been. It is not to be supposed that ancient people had a clear idea of nature, or that they had any sharply defined limits in mind when they spoke of it. There was an apprehension of two kinds of activity in operation. The English people of the Middle Ages were sure of two kingdoms which interacted. The procession of seasons and days, and the commonplace events which were regularly repeated at proper intervals, these belonged to one department the priest, and above all the magician, had dealings with the other department. No one doubted the prevalence of enchantments. There were ogres and giants, and other semi-supernatural beings. There were witches. That is to say, there was an invasion of the powers of the unseen world. Good spirits and

202
evil spirits

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

contended for the mastery in the world. In the unseen world the laws or methods were difThe magician ferent from those of the seen world. drew strange figures, and uttered strange words in his enchantments. In order to effect anything, he must be trained in occult science that is, he must learn In time these two the ways of the invisible world. worlds came to be distinguished as nature and the
;

supernatural.

The world
tinually,

of nature has been growing larger conand more heed has been paid to it and the

laws of

it.

The

other world has been losing ground.

We have, for the

most part, dismissed magic and en-

chantment, and ogres and nymphs and witches and

The result is that the like, from our thoughts. " nature " has become an exceedingly comprehensive
term.
of nature are

Things which once seemed to belong outside now comprehended in its scope. The feeling has been growing apace that nature is coextensive with the universe. We do not need two terms, because one will answer our purpose. Yet nature contains vastly more which is unknown to us, and perhaps unknowable by us, than did both nature and the supernatural to the ancient man. Nature is full of mystery, but we feel that it is, so to speak, a regulated mystery, a mystery of laws rather than a mystery of
the infraction of laws.

Now, to some minds,
entirely excludes
clusion.

possibly, such a view of nature

God.

There

is

really

no such ex-

On

the contrary, by that dismissal of witches,
all of

enchanters, and

that order, which has occurred,

for God, or rather we have some in one way and some in another, the presence of God. The superhuman beings
really

we have
come

made room

to recognize,

THE MIRACLES.

203

which crowded the world ages ago have vanished, having become supernumerary. They are not required
so soon as of the

we have made discovery of the presence One Power in which we all live and move and

have our being.
both
sides,

A child

looking reflectively at our

on some of them towering toward the sky, and all of them of substantial material, effectively resisting our stroke, would conclude that matter is always of that solid and resisting quality. He would say that the space between the buildings is empty of matter. Here, he would say, is material, and there is vacancy of matter. He is mistaken. Every apparent space between the buildings is packed full of matter, so

streets, seeing the great buildings of solid material

full of it that
is

not the smallest fraction of a cubic inch

devoid of

it.

We have matter in different states
everywhere.

of

density, but

it is

That which
all

is

invisible
that,

to us

is

not therefore non-existent.

More than

because of that matter, which packs

places which

seem
live.

to

be empty, beings constituted as we are can

Without it we could not live. There is, however, somewhat else than matter in

nature.

We

call it force.

Some

manifestations of

it

are everywhere present.

We

force everywhere, because all

assume the existence of of the universe of which
in motion.

we can
flit

get any knowledge

is

The

stars

in their courses,

and whole groups of worlds move
Moreover, we are
is

together in

a rhythmical way.

sure that the force which
visible star is identical

manifested at the farthest

with that which holds us to the

ground.

There

is

a force in the ocean currents and
is

tides, in the

atmospheric storms, and in the light and

heat of the sun.
plant,

There

a force in the growth of the

and

in the living bodies of fishes

and other

ani-

204

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
inorganic

mals, and in

matter

;

everywhere force.

Now, while we know something of force, we do not know all this is what we have been learning through
;

painful and slow ages, namely, that force operates in
certain ways,

which we

call laws.

We have come
moves

to the

practical conclusion

that each force

in accord-

ance with the laws which we have studied out. Gravcannot prove that ity, for instance, is uniform.

We

gravity operates in every portion of the universe, as

it

does here on the earth and in our planetary system,

but we are very sure that it does. It is to be remembered that the ancients, those who wrote the different parts of the Bible, did not know what we know. They had no idea of the reign of law, therefore their explanation of phenomena was not
such as we would give now. They thought it perfectly God should make an exception in any law of nature when he pleased. Whenever there was a proper time for an exception, they supposed, of course, that the exception was made. If a man was in prison, locked securely there, and God wanted him
reasonable that
to get out,

angel,

it was perfectly easy for God to send an and the angel did not have to pick the lock or

open
laws
:

it

with a key, because angels are not subject to

the angel could open any door, and take any

one out of prison.

Inasmuch

as

an apostle had been

put in prison, and had escaped from it, in after years they gave the explanation that God had sent an angel.

God

could always do this and that,
it.

if

the exigency
it

called for

Since the necessity arose often,

was

natural to suppose that
tirely outside of the

God

did take measures en-

laws of nature.

If a multitude of people were hungry,

was inaccessible

to them,

it

was quite

in

and food keeping with

THE MIRACLES.

205

God's ways to make a large number of bushels of bread out of a few small loaves. We have found, if we have found anything, that just such things are enThe writers tirely out of keeping with God's ways. know enough of God's ways to of the Bible did not prevent them from making mistakes. Millions upon millions of people have starved because they did not have bread. It is related that Jesus had compassion on the multitudes who followed him out into the desBecause he had compassion, he enlarged a few ert. loaves of bread into food for some thousands of peobut Jesus was no more compassionate than God ple His compassion tells us of the compassion of is. God. God has permitted multitudes, just as worthy of compassion as that Galilean multitude, to go with;

out food.

He

has permitted people to be shut up in prison just

as the Apostle Peter was.

He

has not sent angels to

open the doors for them. Tens of thousands of people have been in slavery of the most cruel sort. They have pined for deliverance. Their condition has made a strong appeal to God's compassion, but God has not delivered them. He could have delivered, if power is all that is required: he could have sent cohorts of angels: he could have dissolved their chains. The fact for us to consider is that he did not so act ; or we may sum it all up in a single proposition, namely, it was within the scope of God's power, as we suppose, to make our race perfect at the outset, and to keep it perfect, and then no wickedness and no starvation and no cruel inhumanity would ever have stained our

human

annals.

According to modern philosophy as understood by
the theist, our Creator does not create such a being as

206

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

man from
within,

without, by a kind of plastic art, but from and by development. Man must grow to his manhood. The race must grow to its consummation Man must learn his lesson as a race. and destiny. He shall become perfect only through suffering.) He must bear his hunger he must learn to supply it. However desirable it must seem to us at times that God should make an interference in our behalf, and break some laws of nature, the very lesson we are set to learn is that of obedience to the laws. It is by obedience, cost what that may, that we reach our estate and accomplish our destiny. The divine interferences were always supposed by the ancients. They prayed and sacrificed to obtain them. To learn the Now, great lesson of obedience was beyond them.
;

obedience
ferences.

is

better than all of these supposed inter-

of God, the great comprehensive law of creation, which has been opened to us in recent times, converts our soul to the thought of the presence If of God at all times and under all circumstances. we are in prison, God is not absent from us and if we are delivered in any wise from captivity, that is God's work. It is not the work of secondary beings, but it is the though they may be concerned in it,
;

The law

work

of

God.

What the writers of the Gospels did not know, through our increased knowledge of God's great laws we do know. With that knowledge comes a far greater revelation than was possible in the past. (In place of divine interference, the newer revelation subIn other words, the revelastitutes divine presence. tion of to-day is so much greater, so far grander, than
that of the past, that
to be

we may say

of

it

that

God

ceases

an occasional

visitor, or

a mere governor of angels

THE MIRACLES.
and other
forces,

207

of creation.
fact, greater

by becoming involved in every part The few miracles are replaced by the
all miracles.

than

The
is

fuller revelation of to-day, a revelation

which

coming in volumes of demonstration,

will of course

be resisted, as all fuller revelations always have been. So resisted they the old revelation, and so their fathers resisted the
still

older revelation.
life

We
woven
glance

have the story of Jesus'
in the
it

and teachings

web

of a miraculous narrative.

At

first

seems to be impossible to detach the miracle from the teaching or the conduct of Jesus and have anything left. That is what we have been told over and over again that if we are going to dispense with the miracles, we must also dispense with the teachings that if the body of Jesus was not raised from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, after the death of Jesus, then the whole matter resolves into mere fable unworthy of any confidence. This we are told, not by enemies of the Christian religion, but by
; ;

its

professed friends.

So was

it

said before the days

of geology, in regard to the account of creation,

and

even since those days. There was a lesson of Jesus which might have an application here. It cannot be too much insisted upon that such things as the fate of a physical body after its death are not a subject of religion, but of physical
science. The enemies of Jesus tried to entangle him in his talk. They asked about paying tribute. " Ought we to pay tribute to Caesar, or no ? " He called for a piece of money, and asked what mark was upon " Caesar's image and superscription," he was told. it. Then he said, " Render to Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and to God the things which are God's."

208

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
many
things

Science in our later days has been taking

out of the domain of religion and placing them in It has put its image and superscripits own field.
tion

upon them.

We may render therefore to

science

the things which belong to science, and to religion the
things which belong to religion.

There

is

has so far made
respect to

something in which Biblical scholarship little or no progress, and that is in that core or vital element of truth which ac-

counts of miracles inclose.

As

before suggested,

we

have by no means fully explored the domain of nature, nor have we yet measured man's power in that domain. We catch vague hints of the existence of powers which elude our satisfactory examination. The scope of the mind, the agencies it employs, and the strange effects it may produce, have their limits, but we do not know precisely where to place them. In respect to these strange occurrences, of which we
occasionally see

accounts in

the

newspapers,

it

is

necessary that they be attested in the strongest possible

way, and by persons who know the difference Now, one between the natural and the unnatural.
is

trouble with the miracles recorded in the Bible

that

they have no scientific evidence.
anything, beyond the common,

They

are told us,

not by eye-witnesses, and not by persons
far as the

who know

So form of them is concerned, we may fearlessly render them to the scientific Caesar to whom they belong. So far as their moral and religious inner meaning is concerned, that is something for us to gain a knowledge of as our light becomes greater.
of a natural order.

XVIII.
INFALLIBILITY.

ligion.

In nothing is assured verity so important as in reSo far as possible, we require certainty in the most important interests and, rightly understood, there is no interest more important than religion. If our religion depends upon that which can have no
;

verification in this stirring age of the world,

we

are

likely to be left with

a religion in the

air,

unfounded,

or a superstition.

The reactions from superstition are deplorable. It happens often that one discovers his religion to be incapable of verification, and on the whole quite barren to him, and he not only leaves it, but abandons
the very idea of religion
superstition.
;

all

religion

is classified

as

That

is

a deplorable reaction, from

which

it

while there

behooves us to be on our guard, because, is no more ground for abandoning religion

is superstitious than for abandoning medical practice because some medical practice is quackery, yet multitudes do proceed upon such insufficient ground to the abandonment of religion as worthless, and without stopping to consider that a true religion is of first necessity to moral beings. /A counterfeit bill ought to render us the more careful, not to reject all bills, but to qualify ourselves to discern between genuine bills and counterfeits. In order to give us that assured verity so necessary

because some religion

210
in religion,

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
we have been advised
that God has given us standard of truth, and that this infallible

an

infallible

standard
require,

but
that

is

is the Bible. So far good. It is the thing we and the thing we require is presented to us the infallible standard, of which we may be sure

it is

entirely trustworthy in all particulars, a some-

thing which
tion
?

may

leave us in the air, without a foundais

How

do we know that the Bible
are told so

an

infallible

standard ?

We

by

certain religious newspa-

pers, and by certain teachers of religion, and in certain books which have credit among a limited constituency \j We are told so but if we seek assured verity, if we are as anxious for verification as we ought to be in so serious a matter, we ought not to be satisfied by being told so. Religious newspapers have made mistakes, and perhaps in some instances might even acknowledge their fallibility. So of religious teachers, and books of a limited credit. Perhaps they all make
;

mistakes.
is

If so, possibly this assertion that the Bible

an

infallible

takes.
rest

standard of truth is one of their misIn so important an interest we ought not to
fallible

on the

testimony of fallible

men
,

for ade-

quate proof of the infallibility of a standard.
sor Shedd, a

Profes-

man

of note in the religious world, tells
is

us that the doctrine of his church

to this effect,

namely, that the Bible is supreme in authority over the church and the reason, and free from error as it
originally

came from God,

its

author

;

that the Biblical

miracles could not have been wrought by the operation
of natural laws

and forces

;

that no decree of

God

is

ever changed, and no prediction of his fails of

fulfill-

ment ; that man was created

positively holy,

and not

merely negatively innocent, etc. This is the opinion of a religious man of note, and he says that it is the

INFALLIBILITY.

211

opinion of the religious denomination to which he belongs, as expressed in their symbols.

Does

this

man
If

of note

know

?

Who

told

him

so ?

Is he infallible ?

Or is his church we ask him and
fess with a
fallible.

entirely correct in all matters ?

his church, they will assuredly conin-

becoming humility that they are not
tell

They
is

us that the Bible

testimony
witnesses,

insufficient,

but then their because they are fallible
is,

and confess that they do make blunders. Therefore we have by no means reached the foundation of the matter, and perforce must go farther and

deeper.

ries

Very well, we can go farther than our contemporawe are not compelled to rely upon them they
;
:

point us back to the reformers.

We

may

readily

discover that the reformers were compelled to assert

the infallibility of the Bible as the standard of truth.

Who

know?

and what were the reformers? How did they They were men of whose excellence, and

even heroic excellence, we are bound to approve. Brave men, learned men, some of them, and in many
respects able

some of them among the greatest Yet who told them that the Bible was the infallible standard of truth? No one told them so. They arrived at There is no question the conclusion after debate. that they were largely influenced to their decision about the infallible character of the Bible by a necessity laid upon them, to maintain their cause. In place of infallible church and infallible pope, we must have another infallibility, and they decided that the Bible was such an infallibility. Were they right in this decision ? If they were infallible men, incapable of making mistakes, then of course they were right

men

;

men produced

in the history of the world.

212

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

but they were not infallible men, for they; distinctly denied that they were. They denied the infallibility
of the church.

taken with
ters,

much

Therefore their testimony must be allowance. cannot be at all

We

sure they were right in this matter, or in other mat-

unless

we can approve

their deliverances

on
to

rational grounds.

So we are driven back beyond the reformers
seek our surety, because

contemporaries,

we cannot nor can we find it in

find

it

in our

the reformers.
re-

That great church from which the reformers volted does not shed any light upon the subject,
cause
it

be-

did not teach the doctrine.

1

There certainly was a time when there was no

New

Testament, when there was a considerable body of literature, portions of which were read in the assemblies of the Christians.

The Apostle Paul had written
It

letters to the saints in various localities.

was

nat-

ural that these letters should be read

when

the saints

came together on the
other times.

day of the week, and at sermons of more modern times, were not thought of as new parts of the Bible. Besides the letters, there were Christian documents which took a strong hold upon the feelings, and greatly stimulated the religious life of the Christians. Before anything was decided in regard to the New Testament, before the New Testament was thought of, a great deal of literature was afloat in Christian communities. The Christians would no
first

These

letters of Paul, like the

1

The Church

of

Rome

recognizes ecclesiastical tradition as of

coordinate authority with the written records, holding that God's

"supernatural revelation
J.

is

contained in the written books, and

unwritten traditions which have come

down

to us."
the Bible.

Professor

H. Thayer, The Change of Attitude towards

INFALLIBILITY.
more have dreamed
Bible, as a part of

213

of attaching these writings to the

than we would think of making newer Testament (and binding it in with the Bible), composed of the discourses of Schleiermacher, Kobertson, Spurgeon, and Beecher.
it,

a

still

The time came when the idea of the New Testament arose. There was plenty of material for it. Just as the Hebrews of the older time had attributed to Moses a large body of writings, and to the various prophets another large body, and had gathered them into a collection known as " Moses and the Prophets," so it would have been most desirable for the Christians of the third century of our era to have had autographs How much more desirable to have of the apostles. That was manifestly an autograph of Jesus himself lacking. Mark was not an apostle, but he had been a companion of the apostles. Luke was not an apostle, but he had been in company with some of the apostles. There was a writing which bore the name of Matthew, and he was an apostle another writing which bore the name of John, and he was an apostle. There
!

;

were the

letters of Paul,

who claimed

apostleship to

the Gentiles.

There was

also a curious

book

of the

remarkable book written during the heroic period of the Maccabees, and a large number of other writings, like the Shepherd of Hermas, the Gospel of the Hebrews, the Acts of Pilate, the Protevangelion, the Gospel of the Infancy, the Epistle of Barnabas, etc. From this considerable body of material, judicious selection must be made. How can that selection be made but by putting at that business the men best fitted to do it ? It would
sort called apocalyptic, similar to that
>,

be necessary for representative
sider the wishes
ties in

men to meet, and conand feelings of their respective locali-

regard to the matter.

214

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
canoD
is

A
Now

simply a rule.

It is a

kind of law.

the laws

made, first and in the was with this canon. Certain portions of the Christian community were particularly fond of some of the extant writings. In the west, the Shepherd of Hernias had a strong hold, 1 and the Apocalypse, though it found much favor at first, was later regarded with The Epistle of Jude, the Second of Peter, disfavor. the Second and Third of John, the Epistles of Barnabas and to the Hebrews, and some others, were received by some and rejected by others. Following the example of the Jews in making their sacred canon, it became necessary for Christians to make theirs. Now, a subject of such great interest would certainly be talked over by a vast number of people, and particularly

we have, and the laws all people have grow up in the necessities of the case, minds and habits of the people. Thus it

by the
them.

religious teachers, or the clergy, as

we

now

matter of the kind being thus in discussion, a public opinion would gradually grow up favorable to certain parts of the Christian literature
call

A

and unfavorable to others. To almost every intelligent person, some writings would seem to be better, more In regard authentic, and more divine than others. to some, all would be practically agreed as to others, Some there would be wide differences of opinion. would be universally accepted, some universally rejected from the proposed canon, and some would be
:

held in suspended judgment.
Finally,

we

will

assume that during the fourth cen-

tury, representatives of the church in various portions

of the

Roman empire come together and make, after due deliberation and argument, an official list of the
1

See note,

p. 312.

INFALLIBILITY.

215

books which are to constitute the New Testament. They pass a rule that the books which are not included in this list shall not be read in the public assemblies of the Christians. The last book of our New Testament, called the Revelation, they did not include, and therefore they made it wrong to read that in the reIt was made wrong book in public, because the very same authority which determined what the New Testament

ligious services of the Christians.

to read that

was, said that Revelation did not belong to the

New

Testament.

We

differ

from these men, and say uniis

versally that Revelation

part of the

New Testament.
which speaks
first

We

read

it

in public religious service as part of the so doing

Bible.

By

we proclaim

in act,

louder than words, that the

men who

decided

Testament were mistaken in their decision. They were not infallible. On other ground we are persuaded to the same effect: it has never been claimed, so far as known, that these men were
about the
not as liable to mistakes as
Scriptures of the
strongly held, and

New

we

are.

Therefore the doctrine of the infallibility of the

New
is

Testament, which has been so

to-day so insisted upon

by many

religious teachers, lacks the proper evidence to sustain

such a doctrine.
Christian centuries
fallible

A
;

sentiment grew up in the early

was held by a great men. Representatives of these men, chiefly their clergy, met in convention and settled that we should accept the list of books they approved, as being the New Testament. These were the books to be read in the churches. Before that, other books had been read, but now these only must be read. I do
this sentiment

many

not reject the inspiration of these persons cided upon the material for the

who

de-

New

Testament; I

216

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

would strongly affirm it. No good work can be done from the Spirit of God. That the work of these inspired men was faultless is reasonably The history of the occasion justifies us to be denied. Later in the denial of an infallible outcome from it. in the history of the world, good men have often met for the discussion and decision of religious matters of weight. That their discussions and decisions were without flaw or fault, all Protestants deny. vWhy one council should be singled out as an infallible council is more than any reasonable soul can tell. What we need in our religion is certainty. It is more necessary to us in our religion than in our other
in this world apart
interests
;

but certainty that the Bible

is

infallible is

the one thing inaccessible to us.
certainty
is,

On

the contrary, the

that there
If

of the Bible.

the Bible

is

is no proof of the infallibility any man of eminence assures us that infallible and in all its portions true, we

may

believe him, because

we

respect his character

;

but

in order that our confidence in

him may be

justified,

to make a sure discovery of absolute truth in him, not only as respects his honest intention, but also

we ought

as respects his information,

and
is

his ability to grasp

such a subject.
ter,

For

infallibility is a

very great matbelief of

all

and the men.

fallibility of

man

an accepted
if

What
is

shall

we do with the Bible
?

we

find that
it

it

not an infallible standard

Shall we throw

That will doubtless be the first impulse of Those who have regarded the Bible as an infallible standard of truth, and have not much acquaintance with its contents, discovering that they were mistaken about it, will perhaps throw it away, f That will be because they have never been acquainted with its true

away? many.

INFALLIBILITY.
value, but only with

217

an assumed and a fictitious value. who have become acthe revelation of quainted with its spirit and value will never throw it away. For the proof of the it There is a truth of the New Testament lies in itself.
I venture to

say that those

certainty, a practical certainty, which, if

we

are sincere

and simple-minded, is readily accessible to us. Only those things which are axiomatic are practically certain. After the axioms are found, only those deductions from them which are accordant with them can be Mathematics and logic have their axcalled valid. ioms. We begin with axioms they are fundamental. Religion has its axioms. All axioms are simple. The axioms that a whole is greater than any of its parts, and that a whole is equal to the sum of its parts, ap:

peal to us.

When

once they are understood, there

is

no getting away from them. The books or scriptures in which they are written may all be burned; they
remain, our inalienable possession.
to

They

are properly

be called

infallible.

They

are verities,

no fault in them. and the things which properly grow
There
is

out of them are our practical certainties, -^v^
I take
it

that Jesus was the most axiomatic of

any

religious speaker in

the history of the

world.

He

does not seem to have argued very much, perhaps

because he busied himself in laying the axiomatic
foundation.

Now, the axioms of Jesus are so arranged by the writer of the first Gospel of our New Testament that we are confronted by them at the outset. These
axioms are the very things which, given in a simple way, will remain in the minds of men who hear them. We do not need any one to confirm us in our acceptance of them. The blessedness of purity of heart,
for instance,
is

a truth we are created to

feel.

If

218

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

the clergy gathered in consultation at Laodicea in 360

had set forth that purity of heart is blessed, it would not add one atom's weight to the authority of the axiom, to one who has understood it. If, on the contrary, such a convention should have decided that impurity of heart is really blessed, that would destroy the axiom for no one who has understood it. That is, therefore, one of the certainties of religion and out of it grow many other practical certainties. The thing is infallibly true, whoever said it, or if no one had ever said it until now.
A. D.
;

On

the other hand, suppose

we begin with
first

the gene-

alogy of Jesus as given in our

account.

From

Abraham

to Joseph, the father of Jesus, the
is

of generations

forty.

Is this the correct

number number ?

In the third account there are forty-one generations. If Luke is right, then Matthew has not given a correct genealogy of Jesus it has the fault of leaving out one generation, and that is a serious flaw in a genealogical record. If Matthew is right, then Luke has com:

mitted the fault of adding a generation.

However
fault of

one chooses to explain

it,

there

is

a fault somewhere.

\Now an

infallible writer does not

commit a

that kind.

A perfectly honest and trustworthy writer

may. Explanations have been offered, but none of them prove satisfactory. What religious difference does it make whether there were forty or forty-one generations between Abraham and Joseph?) None
whatever.
Therefore, for the purposes of religion,
If

the chapter of genealogies might precisely as well be
stricken out.

we
it

desire genealogical knowledge,

we cannot acquire

with certainty, because the auIf

thorities, inspired authorities, differ.

we

desire re-

ligious knowledge, that is another matter.

The

first

INFALLIBILITY.

219

chapter of Matthew contains no religious information
to impart: also,
it

contains no sure genealogical in-

formation.

In the fourth Gospel is an account of the first miracle performed by Jesus. The first of a series of wonderful events would not be likely to be overlooked by writers giving an account of a man's mission. Other miracles of course might be forgotten, but the first one would probably be remembered. This first miracle, however, was not heard of by Luke, as he makes his investigation, or it was not regarded important enough for record. The same is true of the other two evangelists. From seventy-five to a hundred years after the death of Jesus the story of this first miracle is written. Jesus went to a wedding in Cana, in Galilee, and the wine supply failed. He was one of the guests, his mother another. She mentioned to him that the wine was gone. Six water -pots, in the customary place, he caused to be filled with water. That which was put into the water-pots was water, but we are assured that what was drawn out of the same vessels was wine. It was not only wine in appearance, but it was such in reality, and was commended as good wine by the steward of the house. This is plainly of the magical order such things
;

are not unfamiliar to the magicians.
is

Now

this story

absolutely unverifiable.
it
;

There are really many
is

things against

but there

nothing for

it,

except

that the convention assembled in Laodicea in 360,

and other conventions, did not prune it out. They did prune somewhat they rejected writings approved by the common consent of a multitude of Christians,
;

but they did not leave out that story. Now, if we put the utmost reliance upon their judgment, we are
not proceeding safely.

They

at

least

were not

in-

220
fallible.

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

and because

Then, because the story cannot be verified, it has but a secondary or illustrative connection with religion, why are we not at liberty Why cannot we take it as a to reject it as a fact ? growth in the latter portion of a period most rife with such growths? From the efforts of total abstainers to explain that the wine was not intoxicating, we should imagine them to be glad if the whole story were out of the New Testament. There is another story, introduced by the same author, which stands by itself, having no reinforcement from the earlier writings, and that is the most astonishing miracle performed by any one. It is the raising of Lazarus from death, after he had been entombed four days. Thither went Jesus and his disciples, and many were said to be the witnesses of the strange event. This event is said to have attracted the attention of the authorities at Jerusalem,

and they under-

took to
power.

Lazarus because they feared the influence which would accrue to Jesus from so great a proof of
kill

Luke
It
}

in his

investigations failed to reach
told in his time, or he surely
it
;

that story.

was not

would not have omitted
of the other evangelists.
fication of that incident,

and that

is

equally true

If,

therefore,

we seek

veri-

nothing in the story to
axiomatic.

we fail to find it.) There is commend it to our minds as
There are truths
self-verifying.

It is not self-verifying.
it

connected with

which are

But that
to

which

is

not

self- verifying

cannot belong
are
related,

the
the

certainties of religion.

To my mind,
stories

that particular
is

Gospel, in which these
It

grandest and most helpful religious book in the world.

seems to me to contain more self-verifying truths than any other book. The things in it which are not capable of verification, except by that pseudo

INFALLIBILITY.
method which
rests everything

221

on the decision of the

councils which determined the canon, are to be distin-

guished from the things which make direct appeal to

our heart and conscience and reason.

The
times
ligion.

things of religion which do not belong to the
safely hold to.

practical certainties are not the things which in these

we can

We have given a primary

place to the secondary and unessential things of re-

have regarded these unverifiable matters, such as the raising of Lazarus, and the turning of water into wine, as truths to stand by and maintain,
as though they belonged to the religion of Jesus.

We

Now

they do not, and in the nature of the case cannot,

belong to the religion of Jesus, but to the religion who failed to understand Jesus. The real subject-matter of the religion of Jesus has been
of those writers
fatally obscured

by common

faith in these unverifiable

statements. I have heard of a woman who kept a little coat, worn by her little boy, long after he had grown up and was away engaged in the business of the world. She loved to look at the little coat, and it was because the little boy had worn it, although he had long outgrown it. She would sometimes be glad to have her little boy back again, and able to wear the little
coat,

but that

is

impossible.

Better

is it

that

it is

im-

possible.

I confess to a love for the stories about the

turning of water into wine, and the raising of Lazarus, because the religion of Jesus has worn, as a garment, those legends and others like them. I am persuaded that the religion of Jesus has outgrown such

garments.
will

It is better so.

The

lover of the Bible

have an affectional interest in the legends, but he will see that they are not the garments in which the religion of Jesus can practically work.

XIX.
PAUL AND THE SECOND ADVENT.
official list of the books which Testament was made, there were catalogues of writings which held a high place in

Long

before any

constitute the

New

Christian esteem.

The

first list,

the authorship of

which is unknown, contains most of the books in the New Testament as we now have it. About the same time Irenaeus made a list of a different sort. \ He thought that the First Epistle of Peter and the Second of John were of doubtful character, and to be ranked with the Shepherd of Hermas. He did not consider Hebrews, Jude, James, nor Second Peter and Third John, worthy of a place in his list. Also Clement of Alexandria made a list of superior and inferior books. Later, say about the middle of the third century, Origen divided the Christian writings into three classes
:

the

authentic, the non-authentic,

Eusebius, the famous courtier,
rian,

and the doubtful} theologian, and histo-

made his list about a century later than Origen, but agreeing with Origen 's. 1 But we have the evidence of three ancient copies of the New Testament, the most ancient yet discovered. The manuscript known as the Sinaitic, which was discovered by Tischendorf in 1841 in a convent of
Mt.
Sinai,
is

possibly of the
!

reckoned to be of the fourth century, or fifth. That manuscript includes some

See Dr. Gladden's

Who

Wrote

the Bible f p. 318.

PAUL AND THE SECOND ADVENT.
books which we
bas,
reject,

223

namely, the Epistle of Barnaof Hernias.

and the Shepherd

One

of the other

most ancient manuscripts includes material not contained in our Bibles. Moreover, when the Reformation came on, there was much dispute over portions of the contents of the Bible. Some of the prominent reformers rejected the book of Revelation, and others
felt

doubtful about other books.

Thus

in those farstill

off

times of the Reformation, and in those

more

distant times of the early church, there was a greater

freedom of judgment in regard to the Bible than our conservative teachers would like to accord to us now. Whereas, both because we can study the matter under a greater light now than was possible formerly, and because freedom of judgment in regard to all matters whatsoever ought to be greater now than formerly, we are advancing to the use of great liberty in our opinions concerning the New Testament. The one thing of great importance to all Christians at present
is

that according to the best opinions, the different

books of the Bible have a different value. Some books are better than others, and portions of each book are better than other portions. For each intelligent reader, therefore, the value of a statement is to be tested by the individual judgment.
\

The mere
is

fact that a statement is contained in the

no proof of the truth of the statement. We are thrust back on a personal responsibility which we have not greatly cultivated in religious concerns. It is a deficiency in responsibility that makes so many of us afraid to think i but a religion which renders us
Bible
afraid to think will surely

work us a great
is

mischief^)

Ordinarily, books are written in the order of their
chapters.

The

first

chapter

first

written, etc

:

but

224
in the

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

Old Testament the book of Genesis, for example, was written long after later portions. In the New Testament it is equally true that the first books were not written first. Without going through the argument necessary to establish the truth of the proposition, it is generally agreed by scholars, including the conservative as well as the progressive, that the first letter

Paul wrote, which remains to us, is his first letter to the Thessalonians. As Paul was the first writer of the New Testament literature, we have a reasonable probability that the part of our New Testament which was first thought out and written is this letter, which
occupies a rather obscure place in the Testament.
is

It

estimated by
era.

Dean Alford
Others put
it

that Paul wrote the First

Epistle to the Thessalonians in the

autumn
but

of the year
it

52 of our
signify.

it earlier,

does not
Testaapostle.

Suffice

that the

start of the

New

ment was made by
Paul was an

the writing of a letter

by an

apostle, not because he had followed Jesus about in Galilee and Judea, and had listened to his teachings, but because he had been called to be an

apostle by the
his

command and
)

voice of
call,

God

uttered in

own

soul.

He

obeyed that

and did not ask
disciples.

leave of the other apostles,

who had been
it,

He

did not consult with them about

for he probably

knew

that they would not consent to such an arrangement. He took up this work, just as previously he had taken up the work of persecution, because he believed In the prosecution of that God wished him to do it.

he had gone about Asia Minor, visiting various cities and planting churches. He had a dream one night, as Luke tells us. In his dream he saw a Macedonian, and heard his voice imploring the apostle to come over to Macedonia. Paul took that as a divine intimation
it

PAUL AND THE SECOND ADVENT.
i

225
gospel

that he must cross the sea and plant the

new

Accordingly he went across the sea, and visited Philippi, where he and his companion were imprisoned on account of a riot occasioned by their visit. Then they went to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue, and there for the space
the Greeks.

among

weeks Paul preached to the Jews out of their The Jews were too tenacious of their traditions to give heed to what he said, but there were many Greeks who were more tractable, and they formed a Christian community. Now Christianity was so new to them that all sorts of difficult questions would arise in regard to it, after Paul went away. There was no such thing as a written gospel to refer to. So far as these Greeks knew, there were no books bearing upon the subject. Therefore they had discussions about various things, and did not know what to think. They were very much troubled, and word was either sent to Paul, or in some manner he heard of their state, and wrote them an epistle. This letter tells us in general the view of the religion of Jesus which Paul gave the Greeks at that place. It tells us what Paul's notion of the gospel was at that
of three

Scriptures.

time.

This

is

interesting, not only in itself as a piece
it is

of information, but

also

much more

interesting in

showing in what a crude way the gospel took form at the first. There was one great permanent effect produced by Paul and his preaching. The Greeks, who had been idolaters, were turned away from idolatry to serve a living and true God, instead of the idolatrous images. They had also been taught to wait for God's Son, who was soon to come from heaven, and this Son was none other than Jesus, who had been raised from death, and who was the appointed deliverer from the wrath to come.

226

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

This was nothing strange at that time. The Jews supposed that certain who had died would come back
again to the earth.

They had that expectation

iu re-

gard to the ancient prophet Elijah, although we maysuppose that Jesus did not share the expectation. It is quite evident, also, that the Jewish Christians expected
the revival of Nero after his death, and his reinstate-

ment

in imperial

power for a time.

No doubt

the ex-

pectation of the return of Jesus to set up his

kingdom

and punish

his enemies

and persecutors and the ene-

mies of the church was exceedingly comforting to the Christians. They were compelled to endure privations and the hatred of stubborn Jews but all that would last only a brief time. The day of judgment, or of wrath, was fast approaching ; and they must main;

tain patience

and sobriety until that time. Paul had adopted the feeling which had been growing among the Christian communities. He had not yet become very well informed about the actual
teachings of Jesus, such as

we

find in the Gospels.

They had not
of knowing.

yet been written, and he had no

means

Therefore he

felt sure,

about the middle

of the first century, that a great change

was impend-

ing; that the old order of things would pass away,

and the new order would be

instituted.

But

that

new

order, he supposed at that time,

would be connected

with the coming back again of Jesus in the clouds of
the sky, to assume the
to destroy the Antichrist,

command of all things, and which many reckoned to be

Nero.

The

real substance of this letter of Paul's has refer-

ence to the conduct of these converted Greeks.
wishes them to be most careful of
all to

He

maintain a good behavior, so that at the coming of Jesus with

PAUL AND THE SECOND ADVENT.
all his saints,

227

they

may be

ready.

He

speaks in par-

ticular of

some of those gross

vices to which,
cities of the

informed, the inhabitants of the
peninsula were addicted.
;

we are Greek

He exhorts them to purity and of life for that, he says, is what God has called them to. Now the Greeks were not used to the Jewish idea, and no doubt Paul's preaching about the coming of the Son of God from Heaven had thrown them into a ferment of excitement. Such ferments are not unknown to us, arising from the same cause and these Greeks, who had not enjoyed the high moral training which the Jews had, were undoubtedly less affected by the moral teachings of Paul than by his visions of the coming of Jesus in the
of heart
;

clouds.

Therefore Paul, in this

letter, is cautionary.

He

wishes them not to pay sole attention to the coming of

Jesus in the clouds, but to grow morally, and to have
the ambition of being quiet,

and work

at their various

them had negand make an honest living, as if there were to be no such coming of Jesus. Under the excitement caused by Paul's visit and his preaching many questions had arisen. His converts were filled with the idea of that appearance in the clouds and some of them were sorry for those that had died before they were able to partake in that great triumph. It was so great a loss not to see the glorious advent Thus the joyful expectations of these people were greatly lessened by the thought of those who had died and lost it all. Paul knew of these discussions, and he undertook to settle the matter. He wrote that there need be no sorrow for the dead, that is, for the good among
occupations, which probably
of
lected.

many

They were

to

work

at their occupations

;

!

228
them.

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
as anybody.

umph

They would have as much to do with the tri" For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left
unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede

them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we shall be always with the Lord. Wherefore comfort
;

;

;

one another with these words." Such is the teaching which embodied
first

itself in

the

of the

New Testament

Scriptures.
;

This

is

the

message Paul bore to Jews and Greeks the message concerning a scene soon to occur in the sky, and simultaneously a breaking of the graves, so that the bodies of those who had been buried would come forth and ascend to the sky, while a host of living men and Then would women would also join the ascent. come a final overthrow of the powers of evil on the
earth.

Paul believed
Miller and

all this to

be true, just as William
it

many

others have believed

to be true.)

Only, unlike some of the modern advocates of the
theory, Paul would have the Christians neglect none

of their affairs,

quiet

and he would have them study to be and give particular attention to sober and right behavior. However, in spite of all exhortations, the

people could not help being excited at such a prospect.

They wished to know the time when this magnificent panorama would open to view but Paul reminded them that they knew that it would come unexpectedly,
;

like a thief in the night.

Therefore

it

was

useless

PAUL AND THE SECOND ADVENT.
for

229

him to tell them anything further, except that when wicked persons had settled themselves in an evil
day would come, and there would be no escape from it. These enthusiastic teachings bore fruit. The Western people began to entertain the hope of the resurrection of their bodies. They had been careless about They were not the disposal of the bodies of the dead. affected by the Egyptian feelings on that subject, but In due time the delivered the bodies to the flames. primitive notion of Paul with reference to that matter obtained such a hold in the West that the Christians began the construction of those catacombs which belong to the wonders of the world. They were no
content, then the great

longer indifferent to the disposal of the dead, but,

with a religious and affectionate care, laid them away,

hope of the resurrection. Such was the deep sobriety of Paul, and such his earnestness in the real moral teachings of the religion of Jesus, so far as he had heard them, that he laid great stress upon the daily conduct of his disciples. He wished them to admonish the disorderly, to encourage the fainthearted, to support the weak, and to be long-suffering toward all. He would not have them repay evil with evil, but to be always following that which was good. He wished more for their moral improvement, what is called their sanctification, than anything else. He wanted to have them ready for Jesus, when he should appear, by being blameless and worthy. This is the first thing that was written for the coming New Testament, this about the advent of Jesus in the clouds, with the sound of a trumpet, and the
in the sure


;

raising of dead bodies
tic

but to the fundamental authen-

teachings of Jesus this bears faint resemblance.

230

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

Now something happened, and it is of the utmost importance with reference to these visions of Paul. While great events did come to pass, and while a
changed order did supervene, it was not at all in the way Paul expected. Jesus did not descend from heaven, with the voice of command, and with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and raise the bodies of the dead, and catch up Paul and others who were alive at the time. certain somewhat obscure Dutch author and some few American writers of no prominence have indeed claimed that these things actually happened at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. If they did happen, howand thereever, we have no means of knowing it, fore it is the same as if there had been nothing of the kind. Paul supposed that it was all true, and that he had received these visions from the Lord but they were visions which he evidently outgrew. Comparatively few of the Christians of any age, after the apostolic, have given any heed to these teachings about Jesus coming in the clouds. Some of those who have

A

;

more tenaciously held

to the infallibility of the Bible

have been greatly scandalized because the churches have been so careless of distinct teachings of an inspired apostle.

We are
first

surely justified in the conclusion that Paul's

preaching differed materially from his later. If nothing more, he changed the emphasis from one doc-

trine

Another thing is certified to by and that is his abandonment of the expectation of being caught up to meet the Lord in the air. He may still have believed that Jesus would come at some period in that manner but at all events he
to another.
letters,

one of his

;

lost interest in the subject.

As he

ceased to care for

PAUL AND THE SECOND ADVENT.
the

231

outward shows of royalty and conquest he ac-

quired interest in other and more substantial matters.
is testified to by the letter to the Romans, which was written a few years later. It may be inferred that that letter was written to those who had been Jews, and might still indeed have considered themselves such.

This

Hence

the theological character

of

the writing.

I

suppose such questions were familiar to the schools of

Paul ; the schools of Schammai and Hillel. shows a new tendency to go deep into the meanings of things and to reason subtly upon them. He is no longer to be satisfied with anything that is merely outward, in the flesh. He has become more spiritually
the rabbins

minded

;

and, too,

we may

discern,

if

we attend

care-

fully to his line of argument, the loss of the old expec-

tation of the

coming of Jesus in the clouds.

He

has

acquired a far better idea, and one far more consonant with the religion of Jesus.

He does not look for a revelation of the wrath to come, but he sees the wrath of God already revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and particularly
against the craft of religious men.
that the world

After a lengthy

elaboration of the office and effect of faith, he perceives
is

upon the
effect

clouds,

not waiting for the coming of Jesus and that such a coming would really

nothing of value.

waiting for

— and

What
is

the world

is

really

it is filled

trouble while waiting

with groans and tears and the manifestation of men

who have the spirit Son of God in the
of

of Jesus.

He

does not look for the

clouds of the sky, but for the sons

God walking
it.

the earth, and bettering the moral

condition of

We have read the Bible under a wrong impression. We have supposed that all the things a man may have

232

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

said or written are equally true or equally mature.

and therefore to was the way of Paul to grow. While exhorting others to make advance he was not himself idle. He was a greater man, and a better teacher of God's truth, in the year 58 than in the year 52. His fertile mind and his thorough earnestIt is the habit of students to grow,

change their minds.

It

ness did not permit

him

to linger in the old crudity

and error. He evidently outgrew it. His experience was that of a progressive man, that is, of a growing manhood. What he had written to the Corinthians, or the
Ephesians, or earlier to the Thessalonians,
did not

debar him from writing a better message to others, when he had learned it. In him is illustrated, too, the

wisdom
is

of Jesus,

who

said that the

kingdom

of

God

not immediately developed to full proportions in

mankind, or in any member of the race, but that it grows in the mind and heart of mankind as it has opportunity.

The

stage of to-day

is

not the standard

So Paul changed his mind about that very peculiar phenomenon which we have learned to know as the Second Advent. It faded away from him, as doubtless it has faded away from many anWhile the Thessalonian Greeks had turned other. from idols to serve a living God, he had taught them in other to wait for the Son of God from heaven words, to expect the return of Jesus. They were clear of the wrath to come because they were in this state of mind. To the Roman Jews he said something
for to-morrow.
;

which cannot be reconciled with the early enthusiasm. They were taught that so many as yield to the guidance of the Spirit of God are already, and while living on the surface of the earth, the sons of God. And

PAUL AND THE SECOND ADVENT.
the appearing of the

233

they need not look with longing eyes to the sky, for

God, who had departed Son of God they had not to do, except spiritually ; but with the spirit and mind of Jesus they had everything to do. The prevalence of that spirit and mind upon the earth would bring its redemption from bondage. The growth of Paul suggests that there was growth

Son

of

from the

earth.

With

that

elsewhere also
this

among the
come

early Christians.
into

Iu

fact, all

things of all sorts

world by growth.

phenomenal existence in The kingdom of heaven is no
It is not
first

exception to the general rule of development.
first

the full corn in the ear, but
of heaven

the blade.

The

was in the soul of Paul first as a blade of promise. It must needs have been so with all his associates. We are forced to discriminate between the earlier and the later development. The expectation of the coming of Jesus upon the clouds of the sky, attended by celestial beings, to which the first writing of Paul testifies so strongly, was the very thing which
prevented the writing of a thoroughly authentic history of the acts of Jesus. From the time when he had been

kingdom

put to death, the days slipped by and there were newcomers in Jerusalem. Questions as to the difference between Paul's notions about the Gentiles and the contrary notions of the apostles who had been with Jesus arose. History was making itself rapidly. There were persecutions, and flights away from Jerusalem. There was the question of idols, and whether a follower of Jesus could eat that which had been offered in sacrifice to idols, after it was exposed for
sale in the

market.

By

the zeal and insight of Paul great questions con-

cerning the validity of keeping the Sabbath, and the rite

234

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
the like

and performing vows in the temple, f orce'd upon the attention and decision and men in authority and meanwhile, too, strange of the stories about Jesus were growing, and gaining wide currency in Judea, and adjacent countries, stories concerning his birth, and the events precedent thereto strange stories of what he did as a little child. The age was emphatically an age of wonders and miracles. At every step the miracles were interwoven in the stories told and retold, and they gathered weight and size with each repetition. Meanwhile no man was atof circumcision,

were

;

tempting to soberly write the story of Jesus simply as he knew it, telling only what he actually knew Under the circumstances it seems, therefore, to have been one of the impossibilities to write a history of Jesus in the
plain, matter-of-fact

way

of

modern

times.

then? In place of the sober biography we have a growth in the mind of the first century which is unlike the historical Jesus but the growth produces as its flower that ideal character, to know and love which is life and peace. (You do not have to ask questions of history in regard to the value and glory and excellence of that character. It shines for itself
;

What

like the
all

dawn

of day.

It shines

by a

light

which puts
the light

other light in shade.

It appeals to us as a radiant,

divine,

and earth-redeeming truth.

This

is

that lighteth every

mam

xx.
THE APOCALYPSE OF JOHN.

After Paul had

written his letters to the saints in

various localities, other kinds of literature

came

into

vogue among the Christians. Of these none is more puzzling, none apparently more inscrutable, than that found in the last book of the New Testament. Manyreaders have cast that document aside as useless. Others have regarded it as a collection of the vagaries It may safely of a person on the verge of in sanity. be said that the majority of the people to whom the Bible is the infallible revelation of God do not get

much

book book of the Bible. It is true that its writer declares him blessed who reads it, as well as those who hear it and keep the things which are written therein. Yet with the exception of the first three chapters and two or three
revelation, infallible or other, out of the
last

which especially bears that name, the

passages near the close of
in
it

it,

there

is

nothing edifying

to the average reader.

For that there is an excellent reason. The book was not written for us. We do not acquire any blessedness by reading it, because its application is not to If in some manner we can be made to feel that us. the book has a great revelation for us of things that must shortly come to pass, then of course we shall become greatly interested in it, and try to find out, if possible, what it means but it was written so long
;

236
ago,

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
and had such
it

distinct reference to things about

to transpire, that

fail to find it interesting. There which remain forever, but they are merely incidental in the book, and do not constitute its main theme. It seems probable, contrary to the settled opinion of earlier students, that this book may have been one

we

are truths in

of the earlier of the Christian writings.

It is not im-

possible that

was written before any of the Gospels. If the books of our New Testament were arranged
it

chronologically, in the order of their composition, the

First Epistle to the Thessalonians, as before suggested,

would take the place of Matthew. Other epistles of Paul would follow that. Perhaps the next book to them would be this Apocalypse of John. So that if all the letters of Paul were combined in one book, and that book were placed at the beginning of the New
Testament, then
it is

quite probable that the second

book

Testament would be the one which now closes it. This does not profess to be an accurate opinion, nor one that can be substantiated by clear proof, but I believe it to be approximately true. If the first contribution to the New Testament was written about the year 52, there is something to show that this contribution by a (possibly) second writer was made within fifteen or twenty years thereafter, because we may well suppose that only a dire and immediate necessity would call forth such a writing. Such a necessity is plainly visible in the condition of the Jews and the Jewish Christians in the latter half
of the of the sixth decade of the first century.

New

A
One

bit of history

may be gleaned from many

writers.

Floras was the

Roman

procurator of Judea, and

exhausted the ingenuity of a

man

of

some

talent in

THE APOCALYPSE OF JOHN.
The people were
of the foreign

237

devising exasperations for the patriots of his province.
insulted and made to feel the weight power as heavily as possible, and the Nero sent two of his generals result was a revolt. and they, beginning with to suppress the revolution
;

Antioch, swept
the

down toward

the capital, leaving only

misery, death, and destruction in their wake.

Whether

was at its worst or not, it certainly was worse than modern imagination can Nero has always been subjected to easily picture. the execration of mankind, and his tools and favorites were men of the ferocious martial type. The Roman
at that time

Roman empire

armies were the scourge of the world.

The Jews,

roused to the defense of their country, contested the

advance of Vespasian with the courage and fury of despair. They were in no wise inferior to their conquerors in courage, but were deficient in military organization, and so they were driven back, inch by inch, toward the holy city. In it they were finally penned, Vespasian establishing his army in winter
quarters in the vicinity.

Then broke

forth such ter-

rors in Jerusalem, such atrocities, such sufferings, as

elsewhere the astounded world has not looked upon.
revolution, with its busy guillotine, its drowning of priests in the river at Lyons, its farreaching Jacobin murder-society, was but child's play, compared with the destruction of Jerusalem. In its wildest days, Paris was a regulated city, compared with Jerusalem in its worst days, after the circumvallation of Titus. So dreadful a fate was accorded to the Jews that the tongue refuses to speak it, and the pen to write it.

The French

The Christians

fled

out of the doomed city, went

across the Jordan to Pella, scattered everywhere, so

238

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
;

far as they were able

and everywhere they carried

the tidings of the most terrible times that had ever,

they thought, darkened the world.

Either because banished to a small island in the iEgean Sea, or wishing to seclude himself, John, the writer of the Apocalypse,

was

at this time leading a solitary life in the

Island of Samos, of the group of the Sporades.
said to be a desolate island, about thirty

This

is

Roman

miles

and may have furnished subsistence Thither John had betaken himself, and there his visions came to him. It is possible that he had undertaken in that solitude
in circumference,
for a very scanty population.
to write letters of affectionate greeting, warning, ap-

peal,

and instruction to churches of Asia which he had become deeply interested in. He may have felt that the example of Paul, in that respect, was worthy of imitation. At any rate, he begins his letter to the
seven churches of Asia, but in a style widely different

from that
Paul.

of the

more educated and argumentative
probabilities to
his letters,

One might be quite within the suppose that he had made the plan of
out,
localities,

and

was slowly working them
needs of the various

adapting them to the

calamities of the fatherland

when the news of the came to him. The fervid
message

imagination of the Hebrew, coupled with the faith of
the Christian, forces

him

to send out a great

of the last times to the Christians not only of Asia,

but wherever it may find them. The vision is not for It is all men. It is for those who can understand it. for those who have the knowledge of signs and figures
of speech peculiar to the Jews.

We

shall

go astray in our interpretation of
if

this

book of

visions

we

fail to

note that the seer devotes

himself only to the things which must shortly come to

THE APOCALYPSE OF JOHN.
pass.

239

What more natural than for John, hearing the awful tidings from Judea, to see an end of the old
disorder, the crash of
to ashes,
it

in a final chaos, its reduction

and the rise of an orderly cosmos, a beautiful kingdom, to be ruled by the Lamb? The anguish, pain, and terror of the time were to him like the final pains of death, and like the pains of birth, as well
but the keynote of the whole vision
is

in the antici-

pation that the events noted are about to transpire

not after centuries, and not after weary and bloody

decades even, but at once.

How

one scene treads

upon the heels of another, each pushing itself forward upon the stage to be itself crowded off without delay The main subject of the book is not a doctrine, properly so called it is not a gospel, nor a treatise upon any topic, but a schedule of things about to happen. If John began with the idea of writing a pastoral letter to the churches of Asia, and had gone as far in
;

that enterprise as the first three chapters (exclusive
of the introduction, which
later),

may

well have been added
too pressing.

he abandoned
all

it.

The times were
All

If

we combine

the scenes into one,

it is

contained

in the words, "

Behold he cometh."

is

an expan-

sion of those words.

Our
all

religious teachers

have had dogmatic uses for

the books of the Bible, and they have

made

it

ap-

pear to the readers of this last book that the author

was talking about the last things, or about the Second Advent, whenever it might be. He tells us that his
vision is not of a second advent, or a last day, or any-

thing of that nature, to occur in some remote period.

What

he saw was the immediate occurrence of events
all

like the siege of Jerusalem.

After the apocalyptic method, he sees

these

240
things, as

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
it

were, in heaven.

Everything

is

planned
occurs

there, and symbolically represented, before

it

on

earth.

There

is

a door opened in heaven, so as to
is

permit the seer to perceive what
diately hears a voice bidding

going on there.
see the
is

Through the door he beholds a throne, and he imme-

him come up and

things which must

come

to pass.

On

the throne

One who bow spans with

shines with an indescribable glory.
its

A

rain-

arch the awful presence.

Figures

arrayed in white, and crowned with golden crowns,

surround the throne
voices, lightnings,

tainly

and out of the throne proceed and thunders. The picture is cera sublime one. Golden lamps are burning a
;

;

multitude of eyes are gazing.

The One

sitting
seals,

on the
but to

throne holds a book sealed with seven

beyond the power of any one, until a Lamb appears (also called the Lion of the tribe of Judah), who is able to open the seals. This book evidently contains the things which are shortly to come There is no one who can open the book of to pass. coming events, except the Lamb. He opens the seals one by one. At the opening of the first, there rides forth a rider upon a white horse, one who comes to
remove the
seals is

conquer the world. At the opening of the second seal comes forth a red horse, probably representing, quite fittingly, war. At the opening of the third seal, a black horse. At the opening of the fourth seal, a
livid

horse,

possibly

representing famine.

At

the

opening of the fifth seal, the voice of souls is heard, calling for vengeance upon tyrants, oppressors, and murderers. Then an earthquake, together with the turning of the sun into blackness, the moon red as blood, while the stars of heaven fall from their places. The heaven is removed as a scroll, when it is rolled

THE APOCALYPSE OF JOHN.
;

241

up and then appears the day of the wrath of the Lamb. After the seven seals come the seven trumpets and
then the seven vials or bowls containing God's wrath.

These are one by one emptied of their contents upon Upon the pouring out of the first bowl a The disease falls upon the inhabitants of the earth. second bowl is poured upon the sea and it turns to blood. The third turns the waters of rivers and The fourth renders the sun hot springs into blood.
the earth.

with intolerable heat,

etc.
is

The Jewish

character of the vision

shown

in the

sealing of the twelve thousand from each tribe, and in the name " Lion of the Tribe of Judah," as applied to

the

Lamb, and

in

other ways.
sets

view the Beast, who
free, rich

a

But there emerges to mark upon all men, bond and
is

and poor, without which no one
sell.

permitted

to

initiated as the Caesar, Nero.

by the In a mystic manner, the seer spells out the name for those who can understand.
This Beast
is

buy or

to be recognized

Pestilence, bloodshed, famine, every possible evil, be-

trays

its

dire

presence in these visions.

The very

sum and head
all

of all evil, the dragon, or devil, having

but a short time, bestirs himself to the utmost in doing
the mischief possible while space serves.

Such

is

the writing of a

man who,

in his cave

on

the lonely island of the -ZEgean, can seethe
of the final conquest of

panorama
sees not

good over

evil.

J He

only the glories of the opened heavens, and the activities of

spirits

good and bad, but he sees the great

dragon, the devil, at length laid hold of by a powerful
angel, in whose

hand

is

the key of the bottomless pit

and the fiend

is

thrust

down

into the nether depths,

there to abide a thousand years.

Then he

is let

loose

242

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
it

for a brief season, but

does not interest the seer,

because that period
est

is

so far away.

him

is

the event of the time,

— the coming
;

What

does interof Jesus

in the clouds, to be seen
all

mouths, to

by every eye, to be hailed by be worshiped by all men and that is
to pass.

shortly

coming

So vivid are the waking dreams
so lurid, so awful, that

of this

man, so huge

the disasters he sees, so bloody the color of all things,

we wonder

if this

man
;

could

have walked about in the quiet paths of Judea or Galilee with the Son of Man, and learned of him but we must recall the things which were transpiring in Judea at that very moment. We must put ourselves in the place of the seer, as well as we may, and think of the ruthless Roman carrying fire and slaughter and desolation through the fair land of the promise, the

sacred city sacked,

its

holy places invaded,

its

inhab-

itants brutally slain.

We

must think

of the deadly

hatred such things must needs evoke in the breast of
the Jew.

We

must think
be reversed.

of the anguish of soul, the

despair, except for the vision of the

when

all shall

Then the

coming triumph, Beast, and the

and the dragon, and all the enemies up in the fire of the wrath of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment will ascend forever and forever. fCould any pain be too great for Nero and his hordes 7\ Looked upon without sympathy and without knowledge of the circumstances, the book of Revelation is an insanity. There is an order, a method in the scenery, but the total is a frightful phantasm ;Cyet it is redeemed by one of the sweetest and most entrancing pictures of hope ever written by human handA The
false prophet,

of the sacred race will be shut

seer does not see through the open door of heaven the

THE APOCALYPSE OF JOHN.
wreck of a world.
of

243

He

does not see purposeless agony
;

rather souls, a meaningless martyrdom an issue from it all of a world at last fit there for the habitation of gentle and just men. After all the death supervenes life after all the darkness and gloom comes an unfading light. For the diseases which have afflicted men there blooms the glorious tree, whose leaves have healing power. The hunger
is
;

human

and the

thirst,

and the groaning, and the
falsities,
is

terrors, the

bloodshed, oppressions,

are all going, and

they are going soon.
shortly

That

the thing which must
city

come

to pass.

The golden

which

is

the

true capital of the world, the

New Jerusalem,

descends

from God out of heaven, and becomes at last an earthly city. The nations rejoice, and walk in the light of it; the time of crying and groaning and mourning is over. " Behold I make all things new," is the voice which thrills every heart. This book, strange as it is, had its uses but they were for the most part exhausted in the lifetime of the writer who wrote it. Like that other apocalyptic book which was sent forth in the period of the Macca;

bees, to nerve the heart of the despairing with cour-

age and inspire hope in the hopeless, this message of
the seer of Patmos must have been the great divine book of its day to those who could read its mysteries. For those of a later time who have read it unintelligently, it has been far other than a blessing. For the most part it has been out of date since the century in which it was written, and not only out of date, but the inspiration of disordered dreams, and the cause of religious frenzy in many. ( Now it is this kind of religious literature which has a transient value. It is not for future ages, but only

244

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
lives.
v

for the age in which the writer

When

it

is

taken to be a schedule of the events of the a°;es of the world, to wind up finally with the triumph of the Jews, it will be sure to be misunderstood, and to pro-

duce insane visions and baseless expectations?) There is another thing to be taken account of. With the exception of the first three chapters, which are advisory and appealing, and passages near the close of the book, which are hopeful, there is not very much which corresponds with the known facts. It is
impossible to identify the fulfillment of these predictions.

If

we assume,

as

Caesar,

and the

legions,

we must, that Rome, and the and all the imperial power

are set forth in various vivid imagery, they on the one

hand, and the Lamb, or Jesus Christ, on the other
hand, with the hosts of heaven fighting under his banner,

what are we

to think of the result of their con-

flict ?

The

victorious rider on the white horse,
is

coming

forth conquering and to conquer,
late the

to utterly annihi-

power and pomp of the enemy. Babylon, the mystery of iniquity, the infamous woman, arrayed in scarlet, and drunk with the wine of her fornications,

falls prostrate,

and

is

thrust

down

to destruction,

and

the smoke of her torment ascends, the sign that she
was, but
is

not.

This

is

the expectation of the seer, but

Babylon stands clearly enough for imperial Rome, the mistress of the world. She upon her seven hills, ruling with wide-stretched
ble world, hated

arm the destinies
all

of the habitafell not.

beyond

by the Jew,

The
that
all

Jew and

the Christian did not conquer her.

By

slower process of downfall which has happened to
nations, she after a long period

imperial power.

end of her The ardent prediction of John was
to the
fulfilled,

came

not

fulfilled,

and can never be

because the

times have gone by.

THE APOCALYPSE OF JOHN.
He who
cluding
its

245
is

starts

with the notion that the Bible

an

infallible book,

and true
is

in all of its statements, in-

predictions,

forced to one of two courses

with respect to this book of John the seer. hold that the predictions were accurately

He

must

fulfilled, al-

though we have no historic account of it, or else that when the seer spoke of things shortly coming to pass, he did not mean shortly in our sense of the word. He meant shortly from the standpoint of God. I believe that is the course usually followed by interpreters who
believe in the infallibility of the Bible.
of that theory
is

In support
close of

the fact

that at the

the

splendid scene, the triumph of
eignty of the

God and
:

the sover-

holy

city,

Lamb is described as the New Jerusalem, from heaven
is

descent of the

then the re-

demption of the world
hand.

accomplished.

That shows

that the seer did not limit himself to events near at

Yet

is

there any trouble in supposing that the
his

seer did expect the ending of the old world in

own

imagine that he, in his fervid faith, and with his soul aglow with the promises of Christ, not understood by him, should see the end of things at hand ? Indeed, he takes the pains to say
lifetime ?
Is
it difficult

to

as

much

over and over again.

The

plain fact

is

that

he was mistaken, as

many another good and
is

inspired

man

has been, both before and since his time.
full of

The body of his message imagery. The seer lets loose,
in the scenes of conflict

incongruous

his imagination to riot

and triumph.

There

is

an

absence of that moral teaching which makes the sub" The end of stance of the instruction of Jesus.
things
is

at hand."

setting forth of the quiet

There is required no longer the and blessed ways of life.

The man

is

in

a delirium.

He

has reached the climax

246

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
name
of the

of that frenzy which has acquired the

Yet that frenzy finds no real foundation in him, because he is dreaming of the things of his own time and not of our time. In the three Synoptic Gospels which have been
Second Advent.
given a place in our

New

Testament, we find some-

thing of the same idea attributed to Jesus.

We

hear

him not only predicting the overthrow

of Jerusalem,

but he is represented as saying a few of the things spoken of in the Apocalypse. So strong a hold had these ideas concerning the coming of Jesus in the clouds upon the popular imagination, that we may well
conclude that some of these elements were put into the

mouth

of Jesus, a! predicted

cult to reconcile
It is easier to

by him but it is diffithem with his authentic teachings. think that from this very book, if it was
;

earlier than the Gospels,

of the Gospels about waiting
of

were taken the solemn words and watching for the Son

criticism of the New Testament thus opens to our view the necessity for a change of opinion with respect to the contents and meaning of the

Man. The historic

Scriptures.

There may be many who are declaring

that since the fathers fell asleep all things remain as

they were since the beginning of the world.

That

is

a serious error. (Nothing remains as things change in the order of creation.

it

was, but all

')

It is the order

of creation that all things should change?) Therefore

many seem to be taken unawares with the influx of the new opinion which the close of our century witnesses. They do not know what they can do. There
a kind of watchfulness to which they have not been addicted. (The old view of the Bible is utterly untenable. \ Watchful souls have discovered it, and have
is

THE APOCALYPSE OF JOHN.
sought a better view.
all religious

247

Perhaps

it

men

to be watchful of the present

were most wise in ways

of

God

in the continuing creation.
if

They who

are

watchful will surely see that

creation goes on

from

one stage to another, revelation must also increasingly go on from age to age.

XXI.
THE CERTAINTIES.
Referring
respectively

incidentally to the genealogies

given

by Matthew and Luke, we discover ample reason to be dissatisfied with them. They do not agree. In Matthew the line of Joseph is traced to Abraham, but the ancestor of Joseph who belongs to the line is Solomon, the son of David. In Luke, howJoseph is Nathan, the son of David. (If the matter were important, we should find at once that we cannot trust the narrative^ fit is not
ever, the progenitor of

of consequence, except to those
infallibility of

who

believe in the
it

the Bible, and to
it

them

certainly

ought to be weighty, because
their

disposes finally of
simple, honest,

honorable

dream of way

infallibility^

The

and

to treat the case is to conclude that

one or the other or both of the evangelists were as liable to be mistaken as other honest men, and that one or the other of them was surely mistaken in tracing the line of Jesus through Joseph to

Adam

or

Abraham. (Solomon was not the progenitor of Joseph, if Nathan was.\ LFrom a strictly religious standpoint, this is of small moment.; The religious bearing of the ancestry of Jesus is nothing to one who has once apprehended that religion. If, however, Matthew and Luke are not to
be trusted in an unimportant matter, are they to be
trusted in matters of real religious consequence
?

If

THE CERTAINTIES.
they
differ,

249
is

by what means

shall

we decide which

right?

If they agree concerning

any matter which

does not seem accordant with the teachings of Jesus,

how

are we to know what the truth in the case is? These are serious questions, for which we need not

search unavailingly for answers.

We have
Luke,
pel,

seen already that during the period which

elapsed before the writing of the Gospel according to

— there

at least,

if

not before the writing of any Gos-

came
shown

to be a feverish expectation of the

second advent.
delirium, as

This expectation rose to the height of The in the Apocalypse of John.

heart of the Christian community was all engaged

with the second advent;; and out of the abundance
of the heart the
for the people to^put into the

mouth speaketh. It became natural mouth of Jesus discourse
Yet
it

concerning the second advent, because they were so
full

of

it

themselves.

is

in

those passages

which touch upon that subject, in the three Gospels, we find the sayings of Jesus which strike us as least in his method, and least in accord with the tenor of his
other teaching.

As

largely contributing to the fever

we may be sure the book of Daniel was influential. In the book of Daniel " From the are found words of accurate prediction. time of the removal (or change) of the perpetual sacrifice, when the abomination of desolation shall be set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days." It is supposed that the abomination of desolation was either some image, emblematic of the Roman sovereignty, or something connected with the idolatry of that people. It is related by Matthew and Mark that toward the end of his life Jesus went into the temple, and was passing out of it, when his disciof second adventism at the time,

250

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
its

pies wished to call his attention to

beauty, and

especially the

adornment
be
left

of

it.

He

assured them that
:

the overthrow of that temple was imminent
stone

not one

should

upon another.

It is further

related that, returning to the
disciples privately

Mount

of Olives, his

asked him about the destruction of the temple and the end of the age when he should have come again. In answering these questions he is made to refer to the book of Daniel " When, therefore, ye see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him that readeth understand), then let them that are let him that is on in Judea flee unto the mountains the housetop not go down to take out the things that
:

;

are in his house," etc.

Luke, in giving
does not

his

account of this conversation,

make Jesus

refer to the

book of Daniel.

He

does not think of the desecration of the temple by the
introduction of the Roman ensign or some idolatrous image into its holy place and therefore he is not " Whoso readeth let him obliged to have Jesus say understand," because what he says is plain to any one. " When ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then
;
:

know

that the desolation thereof
in

is

nigh.

Then

let

them which are
are all colored

Judea

flee to

the mountains," etc.

It is therefore evident that while these three accounts

by ideas of the second advent, they do Matthew and Mark say that Jesus referred specifically to Daniel, and his enigmatical words about the abomination of desolation while Luke tells us that
not agree.
;

he spoke of the armies encompassing Jerusalem as
the sign that the desolation of
to urge that they
it

had come.
;

It is idle

mean

the same thing
is

they do not,

because in one case the sign

the introduction of

THE CERTAINTIES.
temple, and in the other case
it

251

some heathen symbol into the holy place of the
is

the appearance of

armies around the walls of Jerusalem.

(Thus

is indi-

cated to us the probability that there was some com-

mon
three

stock of apocalyptic literature from which the

quoted, only
facts,
)

Luke changes

the quotation to

suit the

which, when he wrote, had already

transpired.

abundant evidence that the people of the time when the Apocalypse of John and the three Gospels were written did not understand Jesus. They
(There
is

make him

say things inconsistent with his real mission,

which was spiritual. That is largely because they are filled and fevered with the splendors and horrors of the
second advent.

They contradict themselves,
;

therefore,

and same time they record that he had already said that no sign should be given to that generation?; They make him foretell a great tribulation (upon which John dwells much in the Apocalypse), and that immediately after it the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall cease to yield If we light, and the stars shall fall from heaven. contend that this tribulation is some final catastrophe in the still future history of the world, we are told
for they tell us that he talked of signs in the sun

moon and

stars

(while at the

that he said that the generation then alive should see

the fulfillment of all these predictions.
tion

The

tribula-

was soon coming, the darkening of the sun and moon and the fall of the stars. If it be still further urged that by " generation " he did not mean what is

commonly meant, but

rather the race (of the Jews),

note that Matthew makes him say that there were some

standing by him while he was speaking
taste death until they

who should not
of

had seen the Son

Man

coming

252
in his

CREATION OF THE
kingdom.

BIBLE.
were some living

That

is

to say, there

at that time who should (as Matthew says) continue to live until the Son of Man came in the glory of his

Father, with the angels, to judge the world.

These are the things in which

it is

quite evident

that the writers of the Gospels misunderstood Jesus
for those writers, following the popular idea about the

second advent, lost sight of the moral regeneration
of the world, as the only thing befitting the character

and mission
the world in

of Jesus,

and thought

of the conquest of

some outward way,

as

by the advent

of

Jesus with armies of angels in the clouds of the sky.

'Whatever may have been their opinion, this one thing remains by which to test their insight, or their lack of it, namely, the fact that the Son of Man did not come with the angels so that every eye saw him and all the tribes of the earth mourned.; What did happen
in that generation was nothing unusual in the clouds of the sky, but something unspeakably dreadful upon

and that was the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, and the awful scenes of famine and madness inside the walls of the devoted city. The judgment did not sit, with the Son of Man upon the throne of his glory, in the sense which the words of the evangelists imply. The nations were not gathered to be separated from each other as a shepherd divides the sheep from the kids. Those nations which had not been kind to the brethren of the King were not sent into the eternal fire with the devil and his angels. Yet these are the events which the enthusiastic Jewish Christian expected would happen in the near future, these are the things which the words of Jesus, as the evangelists report them, would lead any one to
the surface of the earth
;

expect)

THE CERTAINTIES.
Now
of

253

it is no pleasant task to show the deficiencies any one, least of all the faults of those who have performed the inestimable service of giving the New Testament to the world but the deficiencies are there, open to the inspection of any who have eyes to see.
;

we may we slur them over, or construct some theory by which we continue The task is to accept things mutually irreconcilable.
are forced to deal with them, as best
shall not deal well with theui if

We
out

we

teachings of Jesus and
his method.)

being laid upon us of distinguishing between the actual those teachings which have

been credited to him, but which do not accord with All things in the world which appeal to If in us for our trust and confidence must be tested. so important an interest as religion we do not prove all things, we shall not be likely to hold fast to that which is good.; Two incidents are related in the evangelists from which lessons are to be learned. The mother of the
sons of Zebedee

came

to Jesus with a request.

"

Com-

one on thy right hand and one on thy left hand, in thy kingdom." Jesus told them that they did not know what they were asking, as surely they did not and the ten were indignant that the two sons of Zebedee should thus undertake to get the start of them in the coming dignities. The scene gave occasion to Jesus to teach
that

mand

these

my

two sons may

sit,

;

them that those who are
of

really first in the

kingdom

God

are not those

who have

the best seats, but

hhose
is

who do the

best and most service.
the standpoint of

This lesson

obvious, from

Jesus,

and

it

is

given in different forms by the several evangelists.

On

another occasion Jesus took a

little

child

and pre-

sented

him

to the disciples as

an example of the hu-

254

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

It becomes evident that mility they ought to have. Jesus discouraged the ambition of his followers, so far

as

it

related to having seats or thrones of authority in

As to authority, that at any was God's matter, and he would attend to it as seemed wise to him. Jesus would not give such a promise as was demanded of him. He preferred to promise that they should partake with him in the labor and sufferings incident to his mission. All this seems clear enough. \We would suppose that no one could
the coming kingdom.
rate

be so blind as to err in respect to these solemn
sons.

les-

Yet that the evangelists did err
is

in respect to

them

perfectly plain.

young man who had great possessions came to Jesus to learn of him the way of life. Jesus told him what the way of life would be for him, but he could not bring himself to undertake to walk in it, and went away sorrowful. Then Jesus told his disciples how difficult it must be for the rich to enter his
kingdom.
called

A

Peter
to

supposed, after his usual fashion,

that for such great sacrifices as this

young man was

upon

make
so

there must be great reward.

He

had the notion,

common among men

of the less

spiritual sort, that one does everything for a

reward

so he said, substantially, to Jesus, "

what you

told that

young man

to do.

We have done We have left

everything behind in order to follow thee, and now what shall we have?" If Jesus answered as Mat-

thew

tells

of Zebedee's sons

us he did, then his answer to the mother must really pass for nothing. They

were wishing for thrones on either hand of his throne. He would not grant that. When Peter asks for something by way of reward for leaving their fishing business and following Jesus, Matthew declares that Jesus

THE CERTAINTIES.
:

255

" Verily I say unto you, that ye which have folsaid lowed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Probably some have supposed that in the

other world, beyond the grave, the twelve tribes of
Israel

would be again reestablished

;

but that notion

has only to be examined to be abandoned.
provisional

The

estab-

lishment of a tribal relation, an old primitive and

arrangement in heaven,

is

not satisfac-

tory to the mind.

What

the evangelist undoubtedly

meant was the
estine.

restoration of Israel, as a

community

of twelve tribes, on the earth

and

in the land of Pal-

is plainly contemplated in These tribes were to have one imperial king, the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the twelve followers corresponding with the number of tribes were to be assigned thrones over the tribes, and so the ambition of the disciples, the sons of Zebedee and the ten who had been indignant with them, would be gratified. Their sacrifices would be most gloriously rewarded. That Jesus should once in a while say things of this sort, absolutely contrary to his own deep con-

Such

restoration

the Apocalypse of John.

victions

expressed at other times, or build up the
is

things he was mainly engaged in tearing down, probable. f How
disciples,

not

much more probable is it that his and afterward the persons who undertook to
error

write his biography, fell into grave

and mis-

understanding of him, than that he should have so grossly misunderstood himsel£\ To put the case compactly
:

in one breath he declines to promise the

two

sons of Zebedee the thrones they asked for, through
their mother,

and

in

the next breath

he emphati-

256

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
them these thrones
of

eally promises

authority and

dignity.

I therefore hold the statement of
It is difficult to find

Matthew

to be incredible.

an inner and

deeper sense in which the words may be true. The reward promised is of the very kind Jesus did not believe in.
if any one has a right to set up judgment against a plain declaration of the New Testament ;(and I answer, not only a right but a positive duty^j Those who hold to the infallibil-

It

may be asked

his individual

ity of the Bible

may

be said to give an equal value to

these two mutually destructive teachings of the

New

Testament.

In so doing the teachings necessarily reduce to nothing. (Jt is our right and duty to see that the true teaching may be recognized as such, and the false teaching be so classified, otherwise the word of God is made of none effect by our tradition of
infallibility.;

[\i Jesus

characteristically

teaches

unworldliness

and a distrust of worldly ambitions, he cannot once in a while countenance, much less stimulate, such ambitions.

Whoso

tells

us that Jesus promised thrones

to his disciples, as their
fice

reward for making the

sacri-

of following him, convicts himself, not Jesus, of

error.)

Very

well,

some one

will say, if the evangelist

sure that he does In answering that question we ought to heed the principle that the truth which is
errs in such ways,
all

how may we be

not err in

ways?

It is characteristic of assured to us is self-evident. Jesus that while he lacks the authority of the scribes,

he has the far higher authority of the self-evidence of what he says. One asks " How do I know that purity of heart is blessedness? May not that prove
:

to

be an error,

if

Jesus

is

not infallibly reported

?

"

THE CERTAINTIES.
If
all

257

we cannot

see that purity of heart is blessed

peradventure,
to rise

we could not be

sure of

it if

beyond a dead

from the grave and tell us so. We know it if an angel were to fly down out of the sky and alight visibly before our eyes and tell us so. It is a self-evidencing truth, or it is nothing. So it is of that teaching concerning humility and service; having once grasped the

man were

could not certainly

idea of

it, it is

evident.
to be true.

\We know
]

it

is

true just be-

That other statement about sitting upon twelve thrones and judging the twelve tribes of Israel, and all like sayings attributed to Jesus, not only do not carry any evidence of truth in themit

cause we see

selves,

but they are contrary to the self-evidencing

truths

we

see in the other sayings of Jesus.
is to

There-

fore the one

us an authentic saying of Jesus, and

the other

is

not.

In the one

we

detect the truth of

Jesus, in the other the error of the evangelist.

Such discrimination is made obligatory upon us at "We simply have to exercise the same kind of discrimination that those men did who determined what should go into the Bible and what
the present time.

should be kept out.) Are

we

less

responsible than

they ?

Have we not

as grave cause as they to dis-

tinguish between wheat and chaff?

All of the sayings of Jesus which have come down
to us in the

New

Testament were

first

committed to
to

oral tradition.

They were repeated from mouth

mouth.
oblivion.

They were of the kind which do not pass into They were also of the kind that preserves
if

somewhat changed. one in ten of these sayings of Jesus has been recorded in our Bible, for it is evident that Jesus was a copious talker. \ Paul, for
the sense, even
the wording be
It is quite possible that not

258
instance,

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

was familiar with a saying of Jesus which none of the evangelists record. " It is more blessed to give than to receive " but many or most of these sayings attributed to Jesus, and committed to oral Some tradition, were not so self-evident as that one. sayings supposed to have come from Jesus are sen;

suous, like that saying concerning the twelve thrones.
Irenaeus, one of the earliest of the Fathers, quotes one

by the There was a Christian pastor or bishop named Papias, earlier than Irenaeus, who diligently collected the " sayings " of Jesus which were The writings he seems current in the early churches. to have held in small esteem, compared with these oral traditions. They came from the " living voice," and therefore he valued them. Now here is one of the sayings attributed to Jesus, which he and Irenaeus were sure Jesus uttered. It was precisely as good in their view as that about the twelve thrones, and was in fact of the same order. After the second coming of Jesus the saints would be put in possession of the earth, but it would be a new earth, and much more beautiful and fertile than the old earth. The saints would have vineyards, and the vineyards would be immeasurably better than the old ones. Here is what Jesus is reported to have said of them: "Then will grow vines having ten thousand shoots, and each shoot ten thousand branches, and each branch ten thousand twigs, and each twig ten thousand clusters, and each cluster ten thousand berries, and the juice of each berry will make twenty- five measures of wine 2,500,000,000,000 measures from each vineV That was one of the sayings supposed to have come from
of these sayings believed to have been uttered

mouth

of

Jesus.

:

1

See Cone's Gospel

Criticism, p. 275.

THE CERTAINTIES.
Jesus.

259

The people
is

so did IrenaBus.

believed it Papias believed it Because they believed it we may con;

cede that there
thenticity
;

considerable evidence for

its

au-

meaning does not correspond, as we may easily see, and as some of the later Fathers did see, with the moral teachings of Jesus, and they rebut
its

jected
it is

it.

We may

with equal certainty declare that
sit

foreign to Jesus to say the words about the twelve
in

thrones upon which the twelve disciples are to
the regeneration.
vines,

(As well believe in the marvelous

each one capable of

pouring out rivers of
reappear and have

wine, as to believe in such a regeneration of the world
as

that the twelve

tribes shall

twelve kings?)
(

A gold

mine

is

not composed exclusively of pure

metal.

It is partly gold

and partly other things.

A
The

certain worthless metal, pyrites, resembles gold.

people who work in the mines dig out the material, and then they separate the gold from the refuse. They sift, or wash, or try by fire, but in any number of ways they seek to differentiate between the excellent gold and the things which are not gold. Some are more skillful in this than others, and the unskilled cannot determine the difference between gold and
pyrites.

At

all

events,
is

the

exceedingly necessary

process, before the gold tion of the world,
is

put into the money circulato separate the gold from the

grogser or cheaper materials.

mine of truth, and in Testament and the four Gospels are rich veins in this mine?) Some way or other, by the cultivation of our faculties, we are to learn to discriminate the real from the seeming the truth of Jesus from the dross of the misinterpretation of
believe the Bible to be a

\I

particular the

New

;

260

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
If

his biographers.^

men can
is

learn to recognize the

precious metals wherever they see them, and are able
to test

them, there

no reason except indolence or

should not learn to recognize the truth of God, the truth of Jesus, wherever it may be
superstition,

why they

found.
in the

the truth, even

The way of taking everything in the Bible as when shown that some things cannot nature of things be true, is a way of laziness
for its honesty^

and not over conspicuous

We do not

acquire the wealth of revelation in that way.

we we

freely test the Bible,

get

its

truth free

Only as and learn how to test it, shall from its dross, and be able to

enjoy and live that truth.)

XXII.
THE FOURTH THE GOSPEL OF THE PRESENT TENSE.

A multitude of
trines of the
little

questions arise respecting the doc-

New

Testament, after one has become a
criti-

acquainted with the results of historical
sit

cism.

If Jesus did not promise his disciples that they

should

upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve

tribes of Israel, did he promise the success of his enterprise of saving the world ?

The

three Synoptic Gospels

give us grand pictures of a judgment day.
first

In the

we witness the gathering of all nations before the Son of Man, who sits upon the throne of his glory. In the second Gospel we hear Jesus saying " Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he cometh in the glory
:

In the third Gospel we hear the same words, but do not find given ^giich a picture of judgment as is given in the first. Nevertheless, in the first three Gospels we are led to expect a judgment day, when the Son of Man shall appear with the holy angels and consummate the judgment of the world. \ The judgment and other events associated with it
are to occur in the lifetime of those generation.

of his Father with the holy angels."

who

live in that

Now we

reckon the

life of

a generation

to be about thirty or thirty-five years.

That

is

the

average duration of

life

for the generation.

By reason

262

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
we
are
fulfill-

of other sayings ascribed to Jesus, however,

not limited to so short a period as that for the

ment

of the predictions.

We are permitted to take the

life of

the

man who

survives his generation, and he

may

the Apostle John did, hundred years old. Therefore, we may conclude that the judgment of the nations, when the Son of Man " shall sit upon the throne of his glory," will transpire within the century. So that according to
live, as tradition asserts

to be a

the predictions contained in the
as well as in such portions of the

first

three Gospels,

Testament as and the Epistle of Jude, the judgment day must certainly be before the year 150 of the Christian era. Two things are evident (1.) That if the prediction of the coming of Jesus in the clouds of heaven with the angels were really announced to take place in that generation, that is, within a century, that fact would not be forgotten by the people. Friends would tell friends of it, and parents dying would bequeath that promise to their children. The sufferings, privations, and persecutions incident to the time would be the more patiently borne because the day of judgment and of vengeance was not far away. (2.) If, however, the generation passed entirely away, and these things did not come to pass, and if the harrowing scenes of the Roman conquest of Jerusalem became less dreadfully real to the people by the soothing effect of time, and if instead of the end of all things there seemed rather to be a new beginning of things, not in the sky, but on earth, then surely a different notion of the meaning of judgment would grow up. Other ideas, such as the gift of thrones to the twelve, in the coming regeneration, would lose their hold upon the imagination
Paul's earlier letters, the Apocalypse of John,
:

New

THE FOURTH GOSPEL.
of the

263

more

intelligent portion of the church.

More-

over, ideas of those very wonderful events of which

Paul writes to the Thessalonians, such as the raising of the bodies of the sleeping, or dead, and their ascent into the sky, and the catching up of the living, to make their abode in the sky, would be materially modified. In three of the Gospels these ideas found very full expression, and especially in the Gospel of Matthew. Indeed, Matthew in particular is everywhere colored with these thoughts of the impending judgment and irruption of angels. The color is quite deep in some
of the last chapters.

/^There

is, however a book of the New Testament which gives a very different conception of judgment, that is, the resurrection, and the coming of Jesus This is the book which seems the fourth Gospel. always to have puzzled the students. It puzzled the
;

early Fathers.
self

German
it

criticism has long played
;

it-

out in force upon

and no wonder.

It is un-

like

any other book in the Bible. immigrant in a new country compares the land with the tales that have been told of it. He sees virgin soil, great forests, plentiful water, and other natural adIf he has been led to expect that all manvantages. ner of fruits and good food will present themselves ready to his hand upon his advent into that country, he will suffer great disappointment. The fruits and the food are there, potentially, and even beyond all that he has been told, but he must make his own effort toward their development. He must proceed to put his own labor into the clearing of the forest, and the tillage of the soil, and the actual raising of crops, and then he will realize how true the stories were which had been told him. They were true, only they had

An

264
left

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
out a very important element of truth, and that
part.

was the personal labor

were hearing all the time about the new kingdom of Jesus ; they were for the most part looking to see it drop into their hands, as it
early

The

Christians

were, from the skies,

— a ready-made kingdom coming
Angels were to
fly

with sudden

pomp
all

of judgment.

down with

the blessings and rewards and retri-

butions of which Jesus had been understood to talk.

They watched

for these events to

come

to pass because

they had been solemnly assured of their early arrival,

and they did not come. The delays were unaccountand hard to endure; the century in which it was necessary for them to occur was waning, perhaps had already waned, when a different Gospel was written. Not different indeed from the authentic
able,

teachings of Jesus, but a better exposition of those
teachings.

Recur to Paul's

first

contribution to the

New Testa-

ment, and what he said about the rising of the dead "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven,
with a shout, and with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God ,and the dead in Christ shall rise first ; then we that are alive, that are left, shall to;

gether with them be caught up in the clouds to meet the

Lord

in the air," etc. In the fourth Gospel the truth Paul misconstrues is given, clear of that air-castle element which Christian imagination added. There is the Lord, not descending from heaven, but present upon the earth, and there is the voice, and the effect of the voice is the rising of the dead but the scene is transferred from the future to the present, and from the sky to the ground. Much more than that, the transfer is also from the outward to the inward.
;

THE FOURTH GOSPEL.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour cometh

265

now
of

is

when

the dead shall hear the voice of the
shall live?)

and Son

God, and they that hear

A great cur-

rent of religious thought and feeling had been running

toward the hour which was assumed to be coming

and the present hour, with its possibilities, its resurrecIt is quite tions, its judgments, had been neglected. possible that the fourth Gospel was written partly to
counteract the religion of expectation, the religion of

Son of Man is taken out of religion made to be no cloud-land the clouds, religion but the religion of the present hour and place. We do indeed see the angels in this last Gospel and
sky-gazing.

For in and his

it

the

last contribution to the

New

Testament, but even the
they ascend and de-

angels are not cloud dwellers;

scend upon the head of the Son of Man.
the

Great attention has been given this fourth Gospel by critics. For long it has been discerned to have a different method, and perhaps even a different truth from other Gospels. They are narrations of events,

and
less

of brief sayings of Jesus, each saying

more or
underit,

disconnected from the others.

When we

take to discourse,
as

we take our

subject

and develop

we

are able.

We

argue and illustrate that partic-

ular theme.

Not

so the discourses of Jesus as given

in the Synoptic Gospels.

nowhere represented In the sermon on the mountain, as well as in the sermon on the plain, he speaks in short and more or less disconis

He

as speaking consecutively at length.

nected sayings.

A

mass of bones, each perfect in

itself,

would un-

doubtedly have an interest for us, but would not impress us in the same

way

as

if girt

in a living frame,
It is in the

bound together, and

vitally cooperating.

266

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

fourth Gospel that we reach the discoursing Christ, the Christ who has so much to say and do that books ( cannot contain the record. Therefore in this fourth Gospel we may conceive ourselves as possessing a

few of the discourses of Jesus, or the sayings of Jesus It is the book of the talking teacher, rather than the book of aphorisms. A multitude of opinions have of course arisen as to the authorship of this book, and the time when it was
constructed together.
written.
It is probable that

are erroneous. that
is

Of one

thing

many of these opinions we may be certain, and
concerning the no longer to be

that the uncritical opinions
in the past are

book which obtained
rationally held.

As to what new opinion may be adopted, that will probably appear as one studies more
deeply into the-.nature of the book and the time of
composition.
its

Q But
we
its

the fourth Gospel
it,

is

such that,
authorship

when we
its

are reading

and

feel the inspiration of
its

sentiment,

care not to ask about
composition.]
it

free from whole mission of Jesus, not more in futurity than in the present, and not more really in either than in the past. ) " In the beginning was the Word," and the Word is alwaj^s It speaking, has always spoken, will always speak. is when we study the structure of the Bible and its

or the time of

Indeed,

it is

time and sense, because

sees the

various parts that

we become
;

interested in the author-

ship of the fourth Gospel

possibly discover in
doors.

it

and then it is that we may a key which will unlock many

Let us go back to our immigrant, who has come to a new land and is disappointed at its failure to correspond with the stories he had heard of it. He sits down and waits. He will see if these rich promises

THE FOURTH GOSPEL.
are coming to pass.
shelter,

267

He provides himself with a rude and contrives to get a scanty subsistence out of the brook, and from the wild game but he engages himself, for the most part, in waiting for the spontaneous bounty of the new world to drop into his lap, and it fails to drop. Then some one, having knowledge of his forlorn state, writes him a letter, bidding him note that he has misapprehended the nature of
;

the information he received.

The information
;

is

sub-

stantially true

;

the bountiful harvests are really there,

fields of corn,

widespread and abundant

but they

are there to be wrought out into actuality

JBefore he will ever see the promises

fulfilled,

by him. he must

address himself to the necessity of doing his part

toward

fulfilling

them./

Above

all

he musts stop wait-

ing and watching for these things which will never

come by being waited foi\) The sooner he stops that, and goes on to develop the bounties of the earth into
harvests, the better?\
T

take

it

that the fourth Gospel

is

such a message
It revises
it.

that addressed to a mistaken church.
their truth, or their apprehension of

The

truths

had not theretofore been clearly expressed, or which had been so connected with clouds and futurity as to be neutralized in effect, were now
of Jesus which

brought into the foreground.

how

:

Let us note
:

specifically

" The judgment of coming the Son of Man will soon appear in the clouds, and sit upon the throne of his glory." Said Jesus in the fourth Gospel 'fSow is the judgment of this world.'N Said the religion of the time " When Jesus comes in the glory of his Father, and all the holy angels with him, then shall we know the

Said the religion of the time
is
;

the world

:

268

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
all

truth and see

things."

Said Jesus in the fourth

Gospel:

"Not when

the Son of

Man

shall

come

in

the clouds, outwardly in the sky, but
of truth shall

when

the Spirit

you know the

come unto you to be in you, then shall truth, and shall be free, and shall know

Said the religion of the time the things to come." " There shall be great power and glory hereafter, and
thrones for those

who have

suffered with the

Son

of

Man."

Jesus in the fourth Gospel said: "In my In the religion Father's house are many abodes."
of the time were the ceremonies of the

new
:

religion,

and

Gospels were to be read the conse" As oft as crating words of one august ceremony ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come." In the fourth Gospel
in the three

Jesus does not appoint a ceremony ; he rather says " Except ye eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, ye have no life in you." " He that hath
the

Son hath the
of

meaning,

— words

life." J

IThese are words of inward v
to the transfer of the

not related to the time when the

Son

Man

shall come, but

mission of Jesus from himself to his disciples, which

would come whenever they
spirit?)

sufficiently

partook of his

The
one.
)

structure of the fourth Gospel differs from that

of the others sufficiently to attract the attention of

any

The fourth Gospel introduces ideas from a Greek philosophy. As in the older time when the Jews came
in contact with the Greeks,

them, so it happened again.

and were influenced by Only the Greek influence,
;

shown by the fourth Gospel, appears to be unlike that but the exercised upon the writer of Ecclesiastes structure, which is a proper subject of study, may for
the present be passed over.

The

difference between

THE FOURTH GOSPEL.
the fourth and the other Gospels
it is

269

is

in part this : (that

not tinctured by second advent pictures and exputs the mission of the Spirit.N

pectations^) More than that, in place of the second

advent expectations
If

it

you search the three evangelists, you will fail to find more than an incidental promise of the Spirit. We see the Spirit, indeed, descending from heaven and abiding upon Jesus. It comes like a dove, or as though it were some outward agency, something to abide upon the Son of Man, rather than to be in him. The Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. It influences Jesus to go into
the temple, or into Galilee
;

but there

is

slight notice

of the Spirit in these synoptics.
filled

of being with the Spirit, and enlightened, and empowered,
to.

The hope

the three evangelists do not aspire

In the place of

the Spirit, they have the vision of the

Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, humiliating and punishing his enemies, and rewarding his friends. \Qn the other hand, in the fourth Gospel we have In the first and distinctively the gospel of the Spirit. third we find the disciples begging their Master to teach them how to pray, as John had taught his disPerhaps John had taught his disciples one or ciples. more forms of prayer. If we are to credit the evangelists, John did not belong to the new kingdom, but and he acted in acto the old Jewish dispensation
;

cord with the old order of things.
disciples

Jesus taught the

was not of his own motion He that he taught them, but by their persuasion. taught them to pray to the Father and to pray for the coming of the kingdom. In John is introduced a difThis teaching was not addressed to ferent teaching. the disciples, being perhaps too large and spiritual for

how

to pray.

It

270

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
;

them

but

heathen,

Mount
tans.

to a woman, half or more devoted to the worship of Jehovah in Gerizim, and after the manner of the Samari-

— one

it

was addressed

To

this learner, Jesus said that

God

does not

desire the Jerusalem worship, nor the Gerizim wor-

"[Neither in this ship, but the worship in the spirit. mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, shall they worship the

FatherX" 'tThe hour is coming and now isT)' All Jewish attention was fixed upon the coming hour, but Jesus adjourns nothing. If the hour is coming when spiritual worship is in order, it is in order now. (So in many ways the fourth becomes the Gospel of the present tense^) It calls attention from the bodily

form and presence of Jesus, and concentrates it upon his spirit. It dissolves the clouds upon which religious imagination had held the Son of Man was soon coining there had been those who expected, with
;

Paul, in

his

earlier days, to

be taken out of the

world, to meet the

and so to be ever but in this fourth Gospel Jesus is made to say, 4 Cl pray not that thou shouldest take
in the air,

Lord

with the Lord

;

them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. It was understood by the early Christians that on
'J

one or two occasions Jesus had taken a few little and had magnified them into a simple banquet for a multitude. This was made much of as a sign of great power, and power, too, of the kind most attractive to men. In the fourth Gospel this
loaves of bread,

miracle is accepted, because upon it can be based the doctrine of the Spirit, and the discourse of the bread of life is given. The Christians had been fond of

reading Daniel, and his visions of the Son of Man coming on clouds of heaven, and coming to the An-

THE FOURTH GOSPEL.
cient of days.

271
is

In the fourth Gospel their attention
;

directed to another kind of prophet.

Ezekiel has his

dreams as well as Daniel and in his dreams the writer of the fourth Gospel sees more than in the ambitious The prophet is brought to the spectacles of Daniel. door of the temple, and he beholds a spring of water issuing from the threshold. This little spring in the temple flows outward, deepening and enlarging as it flows. It becomes a river, and it proves to be a river of life to every region into which it finds its way. One
can conjecture that the prophet
that from
its

felt so

about Israel

religion
in

would flow forth
give
life to

and its teaching, or its spirit, due time influences which would

the world.
is

Now

it is

precisely this kind of

prophecy which
nation of the

in accord with the

man who

wrote

the fourth Gospel.

He does not think about the domiSon of Man by reason of his glorious
(He does

advent upon the clouds, when every eye shall see him,

and

all

the tribes of the earth shall mourn.

think about the diffusion of the influence and Spirit
of Jesus throughout the

worhO
we
see Jesus standing in the

In the fourth Gospel,

and greatest day of a national feast, and lifting his voice to say "Uf any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. lie that belie veth on
temple on the
last
:

me, as the scripture hath

said, out

of his belly shall

(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.) The common feeling of the people had been that Jesus would rule, just as other rulers did, by force, only that
flow rivers of living water."
his force should

prove

irresistible,

but the idea of the

writer of the fourth Gospel was that Jesus should Therefore the rule, not by force, but^byjinflu^ncej

great discourses recorded in the fourth Gospel are dis-

272

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

kingdom shall come by the The earth shall become the abode of righteousness by the Spirit, or by the influence of Jesus^ 'So will be realized the vision of the prophet who saw the spring bubble up at the threshold of the temple,
courses of the Spirit. '/The
Spirit.

and flow out in a widening river to bless and heal, and give life to the world.' In the Epistle to the Hebrews the courage and patience of the Christians were stimulated by such words as these " Cast not away therefore your boldFor ye ness, which hath great recompense of reward. have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise. For yet a very little while, he that cometh shall come, and shall not That expresses the feeling which it was the tarry."
:

object of the fourth Gospel to counteract.
specifically counteracted in such

Is

it

not

words as these, found in the fourth Gospel, as coming from the lips of Jesus, "A little while, and ye behold me no more; and again a little while, and ye shall see me " ? All It is the the time Jesus is talking about the Spirit. It is the Spirit Spirit which is to complete his work. which is to be born into the world, by being transferred from him to them. They will be full of rejoicing because of that Spirit, and not because they expect to see the Son of Man coming on the clouds.

The

critics tell

us that they are dubious about this
its

fourth Gospel, dubious about
so greatly

history,

it

differs

from the simple tales of the other Gospels. There is such an air of elaboration about it, that they do not credit it. Very well, but the fourth evangelist, whoever he may have been, is trying, as best he can, to reveal the spirit of the character and mission of
Jesus.

He

will take historical incidents, as they

have

THE FOURTH GOSPEL.
make them
of Jesus.
dent,
its

273

recorded themselves in the Christian traditions, and
serve his purpose, of exposing the heart

He

does not care for geography, as
to locate

is evi-

and he does not care

proper historical setting; he will

any incident in open the heart

of the matter.

So he

tells

us that Jesus says, "

He

that believeth on

me

believeth not on me, but on the

one sending me b" that is, the Spirit* The age was not ready for the work of Jesus, and weary ages have passed since the days of the Son of Man on earth. The adjournment of all things until the Son of Man should come on the clouds has had its fatal effect for a long time. (Perhaps the world will soon be more ready for the gospel of the Spirit, the
gospel of the present tense.
will be ready,

we

will

But before any of us have to discredit those visions

which

filled

When

the imagination of the first Christians. once we have boldness enough to credit the

gospel of the Spirit,

we

shall

have boldness enough

to discredit the sayings of the writers of the epistles

and
with

of the three Gospels about the
all the

coming of Jesus,

holy angels, to judge the world.

We shall

perchance be ready to have our judgment of the world and its ways as we go along. Perhaps then there will be some real belief in the Spirit of Jesus, as saving
the world.

XXIII.
AUTHORSHIP OF THE FOURTH GOSPEL.
Students have long recognized this difference between the fourth and the other Gospels of the NewTestament: that while in the former are given the
discourses delivered in public, the parables

and such
dis-

teachings as those contained in the sermon on the

mountain, in the latter the sayings of Jesus to his ciples, or on private occasions, are treasured up.
is

It

related in the Gospels that Jesus uttered his para-

bles

on the shore of the lake to the crowds there

congregated, and that his disciples afterward asked an

explanation of these somewhat mysterious teachings. That was accorded them " To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." There would seem to be a peculiar fitness in John's
:

giving us the picture of his Master's inner

life.

He
Mas-

was the beloved disciple.
ter's heart.
»

He came

nearest his

Christian art has presented to us this
;

young man with the angelic countenance a gentle, winning man, just emerging from youth to manhood. While it is true that Christian art has doubtless erred in so depicting John (one of the sons of thunder, Jesus called him), nevertheless no figure in the apostolical college

proves so attractive to

all

people as

that of John.

While Peter
in

is

aggressive,

and takes

the place of

command

emergency, and while Paul,

AUTHORSHIP OF THE FOURTH GOSPEL.
afterward connected with the apostles,
to.

275

is incomparably do the necessary work than any other, perhaps than all others combined, we find something in John we do not find in these others. Peter may represent the truth and period of law, Paul of faith, but John is representative of a still future period of

more able

love."

perhaps widely different from the man in the three Gospels. The real John is intense in his devotion to his Master; but equally intense in his anger against anything and anybody found in the opposition. He is not even tolerant of that kind of friendship which does not
ideal
is

The

John

real.

We fail to find the ideal

drive a

man

into personal following of Jesus.

" Mas-

we saw one casting out demons in thy name, and we forbade him because he followeth not with us." He will make no concessions, and despises If a man does not belong to Christ, he neutrality. must belong to the enemy. There is no middle ground An enthusiastic son of thunder of suspended opinion. is he, not the mild and benignant man it seems that he became late in life. There is a tradition that he wished to call down fire from heaven upon certain Samaritans who were not hospitable to Jesus. (He a man who would see his enewas an ardent hater,

ter," he says, "

mies burn in

fireTj

In the Apocalypse the imagination of the writer runs riot in scenes of fire, famine, blood, and earthquake. That book is not the production of a mild and gentle
spirit
;

it

has not in

it

the sovereign feeling of Jesus

\Forgive your enemies." Experience shows, however, that good men, vehement in their goodness, become milder as they grow older.") Clement of Alexandria tells us how John, grown old, at Ephesus took a spe-

276
cial

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
and loving
interest in the

younger members of

his flock.

He

was deeply

solicitous for their faith-

Even if they went abandon them, nor excommunicate them. One of his young men fell away from the good ways of Christ, and became a bandit. He rose to be chief of a robber band. (John did not abandon him to his evil fate, but succeeded in winning him back to After the apostle has betruth and righteousness. come very old, and incapable of work, when he can no longer teach, his spirit is strong within him, and it is a spirit of long-suffering love. He is able to do no more than sum up the religion of Christ in a few words, which he repeats over and over "\Little children, love one another." Hate has been quenched in his breast, and all the simple philosophy of his soul is that of love. One can hope that the ghastly and grim images which thronged upon his middle life, when he was on the island, and when tidings came to him from Judea, had altogether faded from him. We form our judgments of men by their characteristic sayings, partly. To all men is attached an individuality which distinguishes each from all others} While there are strong resemblances, there are disfulness

and

spiritual welfare.

astray, he did not

>

:

tinct points of difference.

We

know

the faces of

and numerous other characteristics. While men change from ruddy youth to pale and gray age, we still recognize them by those things in them which are most characteristic. We learn to recognize men also by their mental characteristics. If the last poem of Lord Tennyson were attributed, by way of jest, and in all the press, to such a man, for example, as Mr. Herbert Spencer, those acquainted with these writers would at a glance
gait,

our friends, and their

AUTHORSHIP OF THE FOURTH GOSPEL. 211
discover the
jest.

The thought and

the style of each

are as peculiar to himself as his countenance.
If any person with an appreciation of the meaning and use of words were to carefully read the Apocalypse, and master its contents, so far as they can be mastered, and then if he were to read with equal care the fourth Gospel, neither scripture having any author's name connected with it, he would say with positive assurance that the two were not written by the same hand. Of course he might be mistaken, but following the ordinary common-sense method of discernment, he would have no resource but to declare the writings produced by different men. vThe critics of fifty or more years ago were so impressed with this commonsense conclusion that they, or some of them, came to another conclusion, which is not so obvious. They concluded that the fourth Gospel was a forgery, perpetrated by some man, possibly of the third century, who gave it out as the work of the Apostle John and
;

in its ignorance the church accepted it as genuine,

and gave it the sanction of a place in the sacred canon?) That is the way it is with many.; If their notions in regard to anything are shattered, they seem to renounce having any notions whatever upon that subject. They declare the thing itself to be a falsehood, or a
deceit.

If

John did not
If

write the fourth Gospel,
it is

it is

assumed by the impatient thinker,
delusion.

a fraud and a

that that
is

is
if

also a falsity.

Matthew did not write the first Gospel, Some high authorities tell us
it

Moses did not write the Pentateuch, then

an untruth. This is the feebleness of an impatient and hasty learning. This is resting everything on some unintelligent assumption. It is parallel with supposing that if but one error is detected in
all

278

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

able, — then

the Bible, anywhere,

— an

error which

is

unexplainis

the whole Bible goes to pieces, and

of

no value. If one

is

able to see the force of the oft-asserted

statement of John in the Apocalypse, that the things
there predicted are to take place at once, and sees

thereby that the writer was mistaken, he
assured that he
is

is

solemnly

destroying the Bible.

(Fifty years

ago there were people still in existence, and possibly a few may survive to this day, who felt that if the world was not constructed out of nothing, in a week's time, then the whole fabric of revelation was undermined. Yet the world, at least, is here, and we stand upon it, undismayed at all discoveries in regard to its creation. It witnesses to itself with sufficient Is it not so with power to command our assent. truth ? However it came to be spoken, by whatsoever mouth, or written down by whatsoever pen, is it not It must be to its own most convincing witness? such as are capable of understanding and believing a
truth.

by John, it is a a forgery. In respect to the Epistle to the Hebrews, which in our Bibles is called the Epistle of Paul, a critical opinion is held by many devout scholars that it is not Paul's
the fourth Gospel not written
it

Were

foolish alternative to pronounce

epistle

;

the writing. (It stands for what

but that opinion does in no wise invalidate it is worthy

^Ihe

book of Eeclesiastes, in the Old Testament, is Solomon for its author but, as we have seen, there are very strong reasons for believing that Solomon never saw it nor heard of it. There are marks in it which identify it with a later age. There are marks in the fourth Gospel which
largely supposed to have
;

'Authorship of the fourth gospel. 279
make
it all

writer of

it.

but impossible for John to have been the Yet that it is " according to John," or

represents the essential doctrine which was left over
in

John

after the failure of his wild visions of plagues

and judgments and all the like, is very credible. Every one is entitled to his hypothesis. The hypothesis of forgery, or a deceit practiced upon the early church may be offset by another more reasonable.

We

may concede

that such a

man

as the Apostle

John

would not only teach the churches of Asia by personal ministrations, but that he would draw around him a few disciples, to whom he would be able to open his mind in the fullest manner. We are informed by tradition that he had disciples, peculiarly attached to
his person, in his later days,
natius,

— Polycarp, Papias,
Among
the

Ig-

and probably

others.

are at liberty to suppose the
of

number we presence of some man

Greek

descent, possibly educated in the schools of

Alexandria, more or less an adept in the doctrine of In the earlier half of the first century the Logos.
of our era, a philosopher

and author had flourished

at

Alexandria, Philo by name, a

man who

achieved a

remarkable celebrity. This Alexandrian Jew is said to have had a philosophy compounded of Platonism, Stoicism, and Pythonism, taken from the Greeks, and of Emanationism, borrowed from the East, all of which he annexed to the doctrine of the Old Testament. He was the mediator between monotheism and polytheism.

The

central point of his philosophy

is

the doctrine of

the Logos, or the

Word.

(When we open the fourth Gospel, at its threshold we confront the Logos doctrineX It is not necessary
to

suppose that the idea of "Philo

is

transmitted,
In-

complete, to the author of the fourth Gospel.

280
deed,
it is

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
difficult to see

how

so

compound a system
truth appears in

could well be entertained by any one except the com-

pounder.

At

all events, its central

the last Gospel.

It is

not impossible that in his

maturer years the mind of John
fantastic visions of earlier

may have imbibed
It

the sublime views of the Alexandrian, in place of the

manhood.

would seem

impossible, however, that the
pletely lost the into a

Jew

should have com-

Jewish method, and have been born method of expression foreign to him and his There is nothing strange in supposing that a race. disciple of John, entering most heartily and intelligently into the real heart of the man and his gospel, attaining that profound and at that time difficult doctrine of the Spirit

which we see in the fourth Gospel, meaning of Jesus, and his mission, " according to John." Tradition has it that John spent his declining years at Ephesus ; and that his friends and followers pressed
undertook to
set forth the real

him

to give his recollections of the sayings of Jesus.

Those which were widely current were different from The those which John rehearsed in his maturity. other evangelists had neglected these most weighty things, so that there was danger, as it seemed to the elders at Ephesus, that these most important sayings To that effect of Jesus would be lost to the world.
tradition speaks.

We may not be able to rely on the tradition, but
accords with our hypothesis, which I hope
able one.
is

it

a reason-

no point in thinking that the must have felt the superiority of these sayings of Jesus over those which were everywhere repeated. The religion of Jesus, as it was apprehended by the people generally, was a kind
strain

We

elders of the Ephesian church

AUTHORSHIP OF THE FOURTH GOSPEL.
of body religion.

281

An

extreme reverence for the per-

son of Jesus, coupled with the expectation of seeing him come to set up his empire in the world, would naturally distract attention from his real teachings,

and

go far

from the tenor of the fourth Gospel that this feeling on the part of the followers of John at Ephesus went to the extent of proposing a kind of antidote for the prevailing religion. It is quite possible that John, like other men who feel their last days on earth approaching, did, as opportunity served, write, in detached portions, notes of particular discourses of Jesus. That he should remember the exact words of these sayings is in the
to neutralize

them.

It is evident

last

degree improbable.

That he should rather give
in detached parts, these

in his

own Hebrew method,
fittest of his

recollections is

more probable.

pose to some

followers the

That he should prowork of ar-

rangement
his people.

is

according to the

mode common among
had been
of the

The work

of the editor

utmost importance in the history and religion of the Jews. In the fourth Gospel we seem to have the foremost specimen of editorship in the Bible, or perhaps in This is not a thing to be affirmed with all literature. the confidence one would have in affirming the correctness of an addition or a multiplication in arithmetic,
carefully revised.
It is the

kind of hypothesis which

we

are accustomed to

for a

phenomenon.

make to see if we can account Now, when we come to the end

of the fourth Gospel

we find a kind of a postscript. This postscript is like the indorsement of a committee " This is the disciple which beareth witness of these
things,

/
/

know that

and wrote these things, and we (the committee) this witness is true." An author would not

speak in that way about himself, of course.

282

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

The work of reducing those sayings of Jesus which John remembered, and in which his faith grew great These in his later days, was committed to others. others would in turn commit the chief labor of arrangement, and of composition, to that one of their number best fitted by education, and by sympathy with the subIn the main, the critics tell us, ject, to do the work. This editor, however, does the work is by one hand.
not content himself with stringing together, as may he prohappen, the fragmentary writings of John,

poses to be an editor
the aged apostle he

who

edits.

may

find of
;

The conversations of more importance than
moreover, he
is

the fragments of his writing
possessed of his

a

man

own

personal feelings and philosophy.

He

has his idea of Jesus, and he has his philosophy,

learned of Philo Judseus.
of Jesus, which

In place of that genealogy

may

very well have seemed to him,
childish, he puts forth the sub-

with his exalted conception of the mission of the Son
of God, to be flat

and

Jesus, to be sure, was born and took his beginning in the world as others of But what about the Spirit the children of men did. of which John, in his last days, had so much to say ? Had that a beginning ? Ah that was in the beginning with God. That was God. It was that which

lime postulate of the Logos.

!

had become flesh, in Jesus, and manifested God to men. So his prologue, almost identical with the doctrine of Philo, does not necessarily represent John,

and it is In this Gospel we are not interested in the person of Jesus so much as in the Spirit which guided him. It is the spirit, not the flesh, which profiteth. Perhaps a question will arise as to the profound
for
it
;

came not from Jesus but from Philo

the key of the fourth Gospel.

AUTHORSHIP OF THE FOURTH GOSPEL.

283

change which transpired in John. Certainly it was a most profound change which happened to him. The belligerent apostle ; the seer of Patmos, driven almost
wild with grief at the calamities of his nation, attempting to play over again the part of
the return of Jesus, in the clouds
the

Maccabean
quickly
;

prophet, and saturated with the popular notion about

— very

how

could he become the benignant father of the Ephe-

sian church,

and the advocate of the

Spirit ?

It is such

a change in him, under the circumstances, as we might reasonably expect. Not a change in method of writing
so that he could possibly write the fourth Gospel, but a change from the apostle of the flaming advent to the Jesus did not come the holy apostle of the Spirit.
;

angels did not fly in the sky
tated the earth in

;

and while plagues devasvisions of the
realized.

some portions, the

Apocalypse were in no degree
this failure to a

Would

not

man who

loved and believed in Jesus,
to seek for a better

in spite of everything,

prompt him

interpretation of Jesus ?
to a finding?

Would

not this seeking lead

Would

not those sayings of Jesus,

which had made so little impression, even upon himself, now be brought more vividly to his mind ? The man who has been most thoroughly in the glamour of the second advent is the one of all others to learn a profound distrust of it; that is, provided he is a seeker for truth, and not the mere advocate of a scheme. It is the enthusiastic and devoted man who goes to an extreme, as John did and when he finds his error, he is likely to go as far away from it as possible. (.He who has found no redemption of the world by means of outward displays, but only in a renunciation of our own interior evil, will cheapen all outwardness, and declare nothing of worth, except the spirit.
;

284

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
many
opinions

It is impossible even to hint at the

of this fourth Gospel which have been held

by wise

men.

They have been

as diverse as possible.

One

cannot take the time to examine the reasons why a particular scholar should deem the prologue of the Gospel as characteristically the work of the Apostle John, while others see in it exactly the opposite. It
will suffice for our purpose to see simply the fact that
this fourth
Spirit.

Gospel

is

peculiarly the Gospel

of the

It is a distinct modification of the

the body, as
that which
incidents

we may

call

Gospels of them, which precede it. It

introduces, as of the highest import,
is

and makes
is

large,

small in the preceding evangelists.
in,

New

come

but their arrangement

of second-

ary importance.
"sayings."
curately.

The author does not
is
it

care for them
incidents

except for the purpose of building his structure of

Not only

true that the

are dealt with loosely, but they are

dealt with inac-

As Matthew Arnold
as
if

writer speaks

has pointed out, the he did not know the relative

position of the cities of Judea.

He

places

beyond the Jordan.
Jews."

He

talks of the "

Bethany manner of the

He

says that such an one

year, as if that office were annual,

was high priest that which it was not at

manifestly foreign to the drapery of but then he does not care for the drapery. He cares for the spirit of the subject. Thus he neglects the things the other writers have taken the
that time.
his subject
;

He is

most pains with ; and in particular he dismisses that the subject which was uppermost in their minds, second advent. The one great subject they had neglected, namely, the subject of the Spirit of truth, he

magnifies.

Here

is

the creation

;

and here

also, as

part of

it, is

AUTHORSHIP OF THE FOURTH GOSPEL.
the

285

human mind

to contemplate
?

it.

What

shall

we

think about this creation
tor ?

Is or is there not a Creaof manifestIs there

Does the Creator take any means

ing himself?
in

Has he anything to say any way by which we can discover

to us?

his location, or

any wise approach him or get speech with him ? These are questions which not only the philosopher, but the plain thinker would wish to ask. The Jew, such an one as John the apostle, would have his answer to these questions, but they would not be the answers of the prologue of the fourth Gospel. He would say that there is a Creator of this world, and of the stars of heaven; that this Creator does manifest himself to men through prophets and wise men that he has caused his will to be written, and thus has he spoken. Here are the sacred oracles containing words of God. The writer of the fourth Gospel, however, goes far beyond any such concept of things. To him all creation, and every part of it, and from the very begin;

ning,

is

speech of the Creator.

The Creator speaks

by creation.

To him God
who
creates

is

not a being sunk in slumber, as an
;

Oriental philosophy declares

nor

is

God

a creator

from a distance. The sublime old thought, "Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night

showeth knowledge/' commands his assent. day, the and all things are divine expressions. More than that: the Word which has always been with God and is God becomes the rocks
sky, the mountains, the sea,
of the world, the waters of the oceans, the stars of the

A

sky,

and

in

among

us, full of grace

due process becomes and truth.

flesh,

and dwells Nothing is made became

without that

Word.

Jesus certainly did not build

the worlds, but that manifesting Spirit, which

286
flesh in

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
him, has always been uttering God.) This
is

the fundamental idea of the fourth Gospel.

(Herder, one of the founders of modern German
erature, says that the fourth Gospel "
earlier Gospels, in
is

lit-

the echo of the

to flesh

and

sense, in

incredibilities,

superstitious.

key.^' * They are keyed some measure. They bind us to and unless we are cautious, make us In them an unnatural order is made to

a higher

play a ruling part,
order
true
is

(in the fourth Gospel the natural
its

restored,

and takes

place as divine?)

It is

we have

still

the miracles, some of

them not

recorded in the synoptics, but they are always subordinate. to be free

must not expect a writer of those times from the notion of miracles but the writer of the fourth Gospel does not care for the miracle (the story of which has floated down to him), so much as for the lesson and spirit of every incident he uses, (it is this fourth Gospel which above all other books really preserves for us the religion of Jesus?) It delivers us a message which, in our doubting times of religious transition, gives rest and peace to our
;

We

souls.")

J

1

Pfleiderer, Development of Theology.

XXIV.
CONFLICT AND HAKMONY.
age of comparative freedom, or of awakened is also an age of great diversity of opinion. If any powerful impulse is at any time given to thinking, an inevitable variety shows itself. (If people are left in ignorance, only as they are kept in ig{

An

thought,

norance is there unity of opinion.^ When the thinking of a community is let out to some one person, there is no difference of opinion. .Indeed, it may almost be said there is no opinion. (jThe work of Jesus was moral and religious in the and yet by it a great impetus was given truest sense
;

to thinking, especially to

those of the most active

to think in a new way an age of stir, and is likely to be an age of revolution. Such an age was that of the beginning of the

minds.
is

The age which begins

Christian era.

Among

the disciples of Jesus were a few
It

men

of

would of course be too much to say of any of the apostles that they were men of an independent way of thinking. On the contrary, they were men whose capacity for thinking had not been developed. The fisherman, the taxcollector, and the peasants were all involved in the settled modes of thought, or of so-called thought, of there was cast into their minds their time and place divine thinker. new seed sown by a Although this
strong intellectual force)
;

288

CREATION OF THE

BIBLE.
result,

in process of time

new element was not immediately productive of it became a powerful force

in the

world.
the earlier disciples and apostles of Jesus
difficult to

Just what the relation of Paul of Tarsus was to it is very

A
of

Certainly we do not err in determine. him as different from the other apostles, not only in temperament and character, but in a marked degree in education and in native force of mind. They were more like sheep, adapted to follow a shepherd he more like a shepherd, fitted to lead the sheep and it is significant that he worked out He his problem of the religion of Jesus by himself. did not refer his difficulties to them for solution. e says that he did not confer with flesh and bloocW
recognizing
; ;
-

He

had already received a training in the use of his mental powers, which enabled him to be independent

human sources. Were we to attempt

a chronological arrangement of
it

the experience of the apostle to the Gentiles,

would

perhaps be something like this

being on the road to Damascus, in the enterprise of persecuting the new religion, he is stricken with a sudden blow, is shocked
:

out of his old pursuits, becomes a convert to Jesus,

and goes on to Damascus. From Damascus he does not go back to Jerusalem to consult with the leaders of the Christian community there, but retires into Arabia. What he did in Arabia is a matter of no
inference is that he reponder the subject in its depths. Then, after three years, he returns to Jerusalem, and

public concern

;

the

common

tired into solitude, to

there abides with Peter for fifteen days.

He

sees

none of the other disciples except James, but he has nothing to do with the churches of the region. ( He

CONFLICT AND HARMONY.
grasps the idea of a world-wide religion.
to cut loose
his

289
proposes

He

from the trammels of Judaism, and carry

message to the nations.

This manifests the breadth of his mind, and his
If Jesus comprehension of the religion of Jesus. did say, as he is reported to have said, that he was not sent save unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Paul did not hear of it, or, having heard, did not His mind and heart are set on more combelieve it. prehensive things he will leave Israel and go to the Accordingly he proceeds to Upper Syria Gentiles. and Cilicia, where he prosecutes his work on the new
:

plan.

Meanwhile Peter has broadened. He is in a limway thrown into contact with Gentiles, and reluctantly recognizes them as subject to the mercy and promise of God, but he feels that the case demands
ited

utmost caution. Peter is brave, but he will not endanger anything by haste. He has neither the courage nor the greatness of mind to enable him to

abandon Judaism. not. In fact, as
its

It is

perhaps better that he has
essential truth of
it,

to the

Paul

himself never did break with Judaism, but only with

formal observances,

its

rites of

consecration and

sacrifice.

Judaism

is

the root out of which naturally
;

grows the plant of the religion of Jesus but this root had produced chaff as well as wheat. Jesus win-

nowed the grain out

of the chaff

;

so in a degree did

Paul, and so in a lesser degree did Peter.
Differences of opinion arose between Paul and the
It was natural that they should look upon him with suspicion. His " call " to be an apostle was not one they would be likely to recognize. Jesus had not called him as he had called them it

other apostles.

;

290

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
Spirit of Jesus
call in his

was the
felt

which had called him. He he had no outward call. Finally, however, the chief apostles, James, Peter, and John, " reputed to be pillars " of the new church, gave Paul and his colaborer, Barnabas, the "right hand of fellowship," and they departed on their way rejoicing. Yet there was a difference which drove
the
soul
;

the apostles asunder.

Peter, being politic, did something at Antioch which roused the indignation of

Paul.

Peter found friends at Antioch, and was on

pleasant and familiar terms with them, eating at their
tables.
tionist,

When

friends of James, the strict construc-

his

came from Jerusalem, Peter drew away from Gentile friends, and declined to eat at their tables.
conducted himself as a Jew, not because of con-

He

science, but because of policy.

Such action

failed to

command
tion,

the respect of Paul, but roused his indigna-

and he withstood Peter, chief of the apostles, to his Peter was a " pillar of the church," but Paul did not care for that. It was more important for even
face.

a pillar of the church to be sincere in his conduct than

Thereto be successful, and avoid scandal. Paul asked Peter a question " Why do you seek to make the Gentiles conform to Jewish usage ? " He who believes in Jesus Christ is free from that usage. In this is indicated the beginning of a separation into two great parties of the Christian church Paul, with
for

him

fore

:

:

his doctrine of

freedom, leading in one direction

James and
rest,

others with their doctrine of the

of the law,"

— leading

— the ceremonies, circumcision,
in another direction.

"works and the

Paul and Barnabas, however, being of one mind for the time, went on their Gentile mission. Yet even they were not free from differences of opinion, and

CONFLICT AND HARMONY.
Luke
tells us,

291

in his simple-minded way, that on one

occasion they parted, after having a sharp contention. Such were the divisions and subdivisions among
these early promoters of the gospel of Jesus.
It is

well for any one

who would know
them.
If, in

the Bible not to

overlook

its

difficulties;

not to evade the facts, but

to try to understand

our endeavor to

understand them, we suffer the distress of seeing the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace broken, nevertheless even that gives us its valuable lesson.

John and James, not to say Peter, take away the stimulating presence and daily contact of Jesus, and there may easily come a reas

From such men

lapse from the truth of his teaching.

Paul could go

alone, without the consent or countenance of anybody,

but they were not of such strong

stuff.

And

there

resulted something of mutual distrust.

This distrust
It

speaks for the intellectual activity of the time.
tells

us that while good

men

could not think alike,

they could at least think to some purpose.
progressive

The

man was
this

obstructed by the conservative

men. Hints of and elsewhere.

we get

in the epistles of Paul,

It is well

known

that the

Hebrew

Christians, especially those of Jerusalem

and Judea,

were under a strong conservative influence. They demanded of heathens that they should become Jews in order to be Christians they should submit to the rite of circumcision. It came to be noised abroad that Paul made no such terms with heathens; the leaders of the church at Jerusalem sent out some of their number to investigate that matter. Paul
;

boldly and
spies.

somewhat harshly
to

calls

these

brethren

They were trying

spy out this liberty of

which Paul was an apostle. them, no, not for an hour.

He would

not yield to

292

CREATION OF THE

BIBLE.

they should go theirs. He would go his way, Moreover, Paul manifestly rejects all authority of the leading men at Jerusalem, no matter what their reputation or high place may be. John and James and Cephas are to him by no means infallible men. They
are not only liable to be mistaken, but he points out
their error.

(Note, then, that to these founders of the

religion of Jesus, after the departure of Jesus, there
is

no notion of the

infallibility of

an

apostle.)

Paul does
to do,

not dream that they are infallible, and they certainly

do not dream that he

is

;

yet they

all

had

directly or indirectly, with the tion of the contents of the

making of some porBible!) The Reformation
itself,

theory of the infallibility of the Scriptures finds a

most scanty proof in the pages of the Bible
but there
apostles
is

much to disprove it. The fact that the made attacks upon each other furnishes a
:

startling evidence of the fallibility of all concerned.

Paul claimed to be an apostle of Jesus the claim was disputed. At one time he seems to maintain that
his accusers are over-apostolic, taking too

much upon

themselves,

etc.

He

reaches the summit of severity

when he talks of these conservatives, probably numbering among them some of the Jerusalem apostles but they are equally severe in their judgment of him
and
was natural for them, because they cared so much for some formulas and usages, that they should be harsh to a man who had outgrown their formulas. (In fact, there is nothing in the whole history of the founding of the church which does not testify to its naturalness by showing how ambitions and notions ruled then, very much as they have ruled
his work.
It
since.

Paul propounds the doctrine of

justification

by

faith.

CONFLICT AND HARMONY.

293

form of an elaborate argument, and illustrates it historically: Abraham was justified Paul is ready to dispense not by works, but by faith. with all rites, and to say that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh, is of no value. Not works but This was not accepted faith is Paul's great dogma. by the Jerusalem party it awakened their strong dislays
it

He

down

in the

;

sent.
us.

Of

this dissent the Epistle of

James apprises

"Was
profit,

Paul.
it

by faith?" asks The Epistle of James answers, " What doth
not
justified

Abraham
if

my

brethren,

a

man

but have not works ? "
not

Can

faith save

say he hath faith, him ? " Was

Abraham our

father justified

by works

in that

he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar ? " Now " it may be supposed that James means by " works
those deeds of righteousness which have nothing to

do with ceremonial performances but he points here to a work of sacrifice which belongs to the ceremonial order. Abraham offers his son upon the altar. He is justified by that act, his faith led him to it ; and faith without works (such works) is dead. Here, then, is James, the righteous man (probably not the apostle of that name), who distinctly opposes Paul in a letter to the whole of Israel. Paul maintains that Abraham was justified by faith, apart from works, and James contends that Abraham was justified by works. Here is an issue, and it was because of this issue between Paul and James that the great reformer Luther wished to cast aside the Epistle He saw the real superiority of the docof James. trine of Paul he had no patience with the conservatism of James. Truly, if the Bible were to be regarded infallible, the Epistle of James and other such material should have been kept out of it. But the
;
;

294

CREATION OF THE
it

BIBLE.
defects, has its great

Epistle of James, while
value.

has

its

Moreover, the apostle to the Gentiles is not without his defects he does not claim to be without them, but confesses them. In that portion of the New Testament known as
;

the Second Epistle of Peter, certain of Paul's writings
are characterized as hard to understand and liable This may, or to divert the unstable from the truth.

may

not, represent the feeling

of the Apostle Peter. to Paul, in his mes-

John may well have reference
the Ephesians of persons
apostles.

sages to the seven churches of Asia.

He

speaks to
of

who had

called themselves

He

severely animadverts

upon the eating

which Paul had taught was enHe denounces God's fiery tirely harmless in itself. judgments upon those who are misled by such un-Jew-

meat offered

to idols,

ish teachings.

These, and more instances which might be adduced,
sufficiently

show the diversity

of opinion, rising to the

point of violent denunciation, which obtained
the
first apostles.

among

These are not things to be prudently hidden, or explained away, but to be considered
in all their bearings.

With such

facts

staring us in

the face,

we must seek

a better idea than the Refor-

mation has furnished of the real nature of the Bible.

Men's opinions are not infallible. Inspired men are subject to the same infirmities which other men have.

They may misjudge each other
tles

;

may

fail,

as the apos-

did

fail, to

heartily cooperate in their work.

If the matter

were

left there,

leave

it

there, seeing only the evidences of frailty

blunder in these
lost.

men

of

— and many do and the Bible, — much would be
critics

There seems to

me

to be a

divinity of the Bible, its divine purpose

grand proof of the and mission, in

CONFLICT AND HARMONY.

295

When men meet connection with these very things. on friendly terms and agree to cooperate in any great
work, and for the most part find themselves in sympathy and accord, they will subordinate many individual

and perhaps some individual convictions, " cause " in which they are engaged. disto the of the great Christian churches of the tinction of one world lies in its unity. It is catholic, and in a way
preferences,

A

comprehensive, and individual notions are subordinate to the interest of
the organizations.
intelligence can

men

of

more than ordinary
it

Perhaps be per-

mitted to entertain their personal opinions on
subjects, but

many

or

would be harmful to permit a most Such methods, however, assertion of them. public truth. Unity is desirable in the last always suppress That we should all be one family, and have degree. one religion, and one faith, and one spirit, is certainly a consummation to be devoutly hoped for; but such unity will not come by suppression it will come by
:

free expression of differences.)

now, we regard the fourth Gospel as " according to John," representing his wisest and best days, we may perhaps be startled by the fact that the highest of John and the highest of Paul are one thing. These two who may have been opposed to each other, teaching doctrines the one against the other, yet arrive at the point where they see chiefly one truth, and in this they are united. It may be that John had warned the churches of Asia against Paul, as one of those who called themselves apostles, and were not. The identification of Paul with the object of John's attack seems sufficiently clear if we remember that Paul had
If,

called the eating of

a harmless thing.

meat offered in sacrifice John writes to the church

to idols
at Per-

296

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

gamum,
;

as well as the church at Thyatira, in stern condemnation of such teachings. He mentions no

names it is not his habit to do that. John is narrow, and Paul is broader. The narrow man and the broad man tell us at last the same story, and it is the story of the Spirit. Paul says that whensoever Moses is read, a veil lieth upon
meaning
cannot see the real Because he is bound by the letter or the writing of Moses but, adds the apostle to the Gentiles, whensoever the man shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Very well,
of Moses.

the

heart of the hearer.

He

Why ?

;

who

is the Lord ? Let us see if we can gain the hint which Paul gives. We can easily see how much of the Mosaic Scripture was concerning things which have no particular relation to a man's moral conduct or Here, for example, is the book of his spiritual life. Leviticus, which belongs to the books of Moses. Minute instructions in regard to things of no importance ritual, the cult, the performance of are there given, ceremonies altars, priests, robes, things outward, and tending to outwardness. When Moses was read, these

;

things were read.

Now

the real spirit of Moses

is

not found in these

regulations, but in truths which belong to our inner

However, life, our relations with God and each other. every Sabbath day Moses was read in the synagogues,

and a veil rested upon the heart of the hearer. Now Paul declared that when the hearer turned to the Lord, the veil would vanish. Well, were not the Jews always turning to the Lord ? Was not that their distinction ? Alas no for, as Paul goes on to say, the Lord he is talking about is the Spirit. That which is properly of authority in Moses is the spirit of his teaching,
!

;

CONFLICT AND HARMONY.
not the letter of
ers, the
it
;

297
all

and as for Moses, and
fact
is

teach-

commanding
of all
is

not that they wrote this

or that, but that there was truth in what they said.

The Lord
is

not a visible God, having a man's
;

name, but the Spirit
liberty.

and where the Spirit
:

is,

there

More than that

"

We

all,

with unveiled

face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the

Lord,

are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Spirit, which is the Lord." All this in Paul corresponds with John in his maturer years. It agrees with that saying of Jesus which "It is expedient the other evangelists failed to note for you that I go away, for if I go not away the Spirit will not come " it corresponds with the axiomatic
:

;

teachings of Jesus which

all
it

the evangelists give us.

The outward

is

principal,

may

be,

in

the three

For when Jews to make clean the inside of the cup and platter, and that those who seek for the Holy Spirit shall receive the Holy Spirit when he tells of the Good Samaritan, and speaks of fasting and the Sabbath, the strain is the same as that of Paul and the fourth Gospel. The things which come from the unclean heart, they are the things which defile, but eating with unwashed hands is nothing the kingdom of heaven is within you
evangelists, but the

inward

is

there as well.

Jesus, in the synoptics, tells the

;

judge not according to the appearance, but judge
righteous judgment,

all

these words of Jesus, given

line of the maturer judgment of Paul and John and these are the very things which are in line with the better judgment of everybody they prove themselves.^; We are accustomed to the notion that the Jews

in the synoptics, are exactly in
;

;

somehow made a great mistake

in

their

religion.

298

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
all

They were
Jesus.

astray

;

the proof
?

is

that they rejected

How

were they astray

If

we say

that they

were unfaithful to their trust and did not live in accordance with their religion, we shall do them an injustice. For Paul, who seems to be an unprejudiced witness, bears testimony that they were religious, according to their method, and very zealous but he " They went about to finds fault with their method. establish their righteousness, which was of the law." The law, as it had come down to them, was largely a commandment about performances. They tried unsuccessfully to establish a righteousness on that basis,
;

and, in the nature of the case, that

is

impossible.

Jews is the mistake of the shows itself in such a passage as that in Matthew, about the Son of Man sitting upon the throne of his glory, and gathering the naIt shows itself in the promise to tions to judgment. the twelve that they should sit on thrones of judgment. As if the world could be made better by having the Son of Man seated on a throne; or as if the twelve tribes could be made better by having the apostles on thrones. Against all this outward business, be it what it might, it was the work of Jesus to protest. It
real mistake of the It

The

Christians as well.

is in his

protest against these things, as well as in his

positive teachings of the blessedness of the

good

life

and the good
spirit is all.

heart, that Jesus is identified.

The

Out

of the evil heart proceed the miseries

and ills of the world. Out of the heart which changes from evil to good proceed the blessings of the world .) It is in this good heart, this repentant heart, this life of inward truth and rectitude, that God, who is a Spirit, works the works of creation. Some one wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews. In

CONFLICT AND HARMONY.
that there
sacrifices,
is

299

a mass of reference to priesthoods and
all

and

the like.
it

Hebrew, for whom
dross.

It was adapted to the was intended but for us it is
;

Mixed with the dross
;

glitters

the gold of

There was an outward law engraved on stone tablets that passes away. With its departure comes a new covenant, the covenant of the inward law, which is engraved on our inward life. The fastings and mortifications, the sacrifices and altars, belong to a period which ought to pass away. To do the outward
truth.

things of worship belongs to the old childish order.

to the

To be inwardly bent upon righteousness is to belong new order; and that is the real order. 1

QThus it is the spirit, or inward life of man, with which the Spirit of God has to do.i To that agree all So long as the body, the prophets and apostles. letter, formula, or other outward thing fills the field of Wherefore, beneath all faith, the Spirit is excluded. the superficial show of disorder and disagreement in the evangelists and apostles, their disputes about meat offered to idols and circumcision, and their ambitions concerning places in the coming kingdom, there is a unity and in that unity we may discover the gold of
f

;

their real subject-matter^
1

belonged to the new
father

That the men of faith who lived under the old order really " Your is attested by the words of Jesus
:

Abraham

rejoiced to see

my

day,"

etc.

XXV.
THE SOCIOLOGICAL KELIGION OF JAMES.

What is religion ? A host of answers may be offered,
but
all

versary

may resolve may answer

into

two

:

that religion

both advocate and adis a doing of someis

thing by which God, or the Superior Power,
in feeling toward us.

affected

This answer comes out of

human

experience.

We

ence of primitive

done

ill

were conscious of having caused them to feel that something must be
of this, which ultimately takes the

may well men who

conceive that the experi-

offered to the gods to avert disaster, or retribution.

The doing

form of Thus religion springs out of a sentiment in us that we are ill-deserving, and out of an imagination that if we have done ill there is some way of averting the due retribution. All the part of
sacrifice, is religion.

religion

which belongs to

sacrifice, or

a propitiation of
It is

the anger of God, rests upon the imagination.
ligion that
it.

because of the prevalence of the sacrificial idea in re-

of

many men of strong judgment have rejected The sacrifice of a beast on an altar, or of a Son God upon the cross, for the purpose of averting just
basis.

retribution from

imaginary
less

any one, is seen to rest upon a purely Not only so, but it belongs to the
:

developed imagination
is

the imagination of the

man who
to
it.

trained in reasoning does not respond

Suppose we say that religion

is

not a matter of the

SOCIOLOGICAL RELIGION OF JAMES.
imagination, but of the heart
;

301

that however
it,

imagination
the religious
to us.

may man

be concerned in
is
;

the

much the man who turns
good
is

from that which

evil to that

which

is

really

we may be

the better able to under-

stand some of the things which the Bible has to say " With the heart man belie veth unto right;

eousness

" that

is

to say, in striving to

mands
evil,

of right, in striving to go clear
is

obey the defrom the rule of

one

living a religious life in the true sense of

course such a man may be more or less confused in his ideas of right and wrong, may be far but be he who he may, wise astray in his reasonings
the term.

Of

;

or simple, he

is

truly religious.

It seems to have been natural that religion should have been regarded as for the most part theological, or mainly concerned with our relations with God. Temples, altars, votive gifts,

vows, and

all

the parapher-

nalia of religion have hitherto been strictly

Godward.

The

medicine-man has been our agent to adjust things between us and God. Having in some manner achieved that adjustment, all is done that need be done. Yet a change comes, involving religion
priest or

while some fear that religion will disappear, others
perceive that
it

is

undergoing that change which perits

petually increases

reasonableness and usefulness
;

and decreases
religion does,
ity.

its futility

because the old theological

more than

all else,

demonstrate
is

its futil-

Now

it

appears to have been conceived by some
not theological,
chiefly,

of the early Christians that religion

or Godward,

but sociological, or manward. Changes do not need to be effected in God. It would

be better to accept outright the dogma of the Hebrew prophet that God is the unchangeable. Changes in

man, and in

his conditions,

and

in the

mutual relations

302

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
It is therefore hopeful to observe

of men, are the very things which are required, in the

nature of things.
that in our

own times

serious modification,

religion
it

is

is

shifting its

undergoing the most ground from
->

the theological to the sociological aspect of things.

'

This shifting of the ground

is

anticipated by some

of the wiser of the early Christians.

Indeed,

it is

the

natural result of the teachings of Jesus,
teachings are understood.
It

when

those

think of

God

as a transcendent

comes from ceasing to Being stationed aloft

above nature, and learning to think of him as immanent in nature. (j[t comes ultimately from faith in a Being who immediately works in every department of force and matter. Of this change from the theological to the sociological religion

we

see evidences in

James, the writer of a Christian
bution to the Bible
this writer
is

epistle,

whose

contri-

characterized more

by

practical
It is

common-sense than by

flights of imagination.

who

says,

"Pure

religion

and undefiled

God and Father is this, to visit the fatherand widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."^ Or, the religion which
before our
less

meets the approval of

God

seeks chiefly to better hu-

man conditions. As to James,

the author of this epistle, he

is

one of
catch
first

three or four of that name, some of

whom we
The
the
is

but passing glimpses of in the Gospels.

James

whose, acquaintance

we make

son

of

Zebedee, one of the twelve, and the brother of the Apostle John. The second is James the son of Alphseus, also one of the twelve, and. possibly brother of Matthew the publican, the name of whose father There is also a James rather mysteriis Alphaeus. ously spoken of as the " brother of the Lord " and
j

SOCIOLOGICAL RELIGION OF JAMES.
there
It
is

303

"James

the Just," a citizen of Jerusalem.

was surmised by Luther that still another James existed, and that this other was the author of the Like Luther, we are left somewhat to surepistle. mise but the most reasonable surmise is that James
;

the Just

is

the author.
title

The man who could properly

would be the one to write such a letter. It is supposed that James the son of Zebedee was beheaded by Herod a few years after the martyrdom of Stephen, and before the letter could have been
bear such a noble
written.

Now

the writer of that letter, as compared with

Paul, had a limited horizon.

He
the

addressed his letter
of emancipated

only to the Israelites.

To

mind

Paul, circumcision was nothing but a formal ceremony,

and had ceased to signify anything. To the mind of James, circumcision was a commandment of Jehovah. It was to be practiced, not because we find it necessary, or because it is in any wise useful, but because God commanded it. It is thus many good men seem to think about immersion and other forms of baptism, we would not practice such ceremonies unless they were divinely commanded. Inasmuch as we have the

commandment, we

it becomes a part perform the rite. Paul was less solicitous than others about such commandments. He wanted to know the reasons for them, and whether they were binding in their nature to all time. Having

are assured that

of righteousness to

satisfied himself that

they were not, he had

little

use

for them.

Paul, however, became a

man

of the world:

James was the man
portion of

of Jerusalem.

His sympathy

could stretch as far as the seed of Abraham, or that
it included in the covenant of Abraham. Further than that he was not prepared to go ; but of

304

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
To him, Jesus was a Jew, and had never
;

the real essence of Israel's religion he had nevertheless the true idea.

ceased to be such

but to Paul, Jesus was a man, and with his mission commensurate with the human family,

not with the family of
in his lineage.

Abraham

alone.

James

gloried

Paul declared that though a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and of the tribe of Benjamin, and
circumcised the eighth day, after the regular order, he

counted such things as mere refuse, compared with
other things.

So then James has the limitations which Paul
does not share
:

nor

is

he limited in respect to one

class of subjects alone.

In many ways he shows a

narrowness.
lieve in

He
is

has not been able to comprehend the

of faith. \For a man to beno great achievement. Demons believe that but they are not thereby improved. To believe things is a matter of theory, or speculation and one who lays emphasis on belief lives a life as it were in the air. It is very much, as he explains, like telling a hungry and naked man, who applies for help, It is a kind of mind-cure for to be clad and fed.

meaning and blessedness

God God is

;

poverty: he thinks

it

absurd.
to

To

feed the hungry

do the things of charity in general to speak soberly and with genuine sweetness, that is what is necessary. " What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he has faith, and has not
;
.

and clothe the naked, and

Faith is visionary to this man and yet he Only he does not comprehend what is said about it by such a man as Paul. This doctrine of being justified by faith does not meet his approval.

works?"
has
it.

;

A

man

is

justified

manded

to sacrifice
it,

by what he does. If he is comhis qnly son on the altar, and
is

proceeds to do

he

justified.

Rahab

of Jericho

SOCIOLOGICAL RELIGION OF JAMES.
was
justified

305

who demanded

by taking care of the Hebrew men protection. She was not a person of
:

on the contrary, a fallen woman but by her works was made a just woman. Paul
stainless character

elevates faith above works,

works above

faith.

James the Just elevates Each has his point of view each
;

honestly speaks from that point.

What man of

chiefly distinguishes this just

man,

this strict
is

Jerusalem,

is

his

feeling

that

religion

mainly the regulation of our social relations. The sacrifices have their importance, but fall nevertheless He is troubled by the disparity to a secondary place. of condition among the children of Israel. There are
the poor,

who

are suffering their poverty, their life
it;

embittered by

and over against them the rich, life, and oppress the poor. This is of vastly more importance to this good man than anything that Paul can say about the sin of Adam, and the consequent sinning of all his descendants, and the passing of death upon all for that That is in the region of speculation or the reason. realm of " faith," and James the Just is impatient with that whole department of thought. If James were our contemporary, possibly he would object to it The president all as belonging to the field of dogma. of a great college and a representative of conservative " Now I say, I dare to say, would thought has said to God that men would heed me, that if I must choose between life and dogma, I will say that Christianity is not a life, but a dogma. You cannot live the Christian The one life without holding the Christian dogma. emanates solely from the other. This dogma's great supposition is that man is a sinner, and that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Its

who enjoy

the good things of

:

/

306
great fact
sins,

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
is that Jesus was the propitiation for our and not for ours only, but for the sins of the
1

whole world."
even
faith

It is conceivable that
less patience
;

James the Just would have

with that than with justification by

and I am sure that Paul, after all his argumenby Adam, and death as consequence, would maintain Christianity to be a life.
tation about sin introduced

He
by

seems to forever dispute our learned conservative
his ringing words,

— " For

me
tells

to live is Christ."

Our learned conservative, who

us that Christianity

(if one has to choose), is not a life but a dogma, would go far to rouse the wrath of James the Just, who is endeavoring to clear the mind of Israel from mischiev-

ous notions of that
gical aspects.

sort.

The

theological aspects of

religion he diligently seeks to replace by the sociolo-

" See," he says, "
rich."

how

it is

with the poor

and with the
theoretical,

The

social condition, actual not

and indignation. on the part of the poor, such haughty pride and vanity on the part of the rich, as may be seen in the synagogue itself,
fills

his soul with grief

Such a respect

of persons, such sycophancy

he cannot bear. He asks if God cares for the rich, more than for the poor. Visions of harvests, owned by the rich, and reaped by the poor, and the wages
withheld, torture him.
soul of
It is all unjust,
it is

and he

in the

him

is

just
is

;

therefore

unendurable.

(A

sturdy democrat
sense,

he

;

a

man

of practical

common-

and of a warm and indignant heart. ^ He is far more concerned with the evil conditions of Israel's religion, and its social life, than with the new notions of faith which are beginning to make themselves known.
1

Baccalaureate Address of President Patton, Princeton,

May

7,

1891.

SOCIOLOGICAL RELIGION OF JAMES.

307

result in

Those notions are of great consequence and will bring due time, but the time is too serious in its
its

delinquencies, in

corruption of religion, to permit

him

to think of a doctrine of faith.
is

There

another thing of interest to us, and that

is

the feeling which this just

man had

in

regard to the

second advent. He could not have been unfamiliar with the current interest in that matter; but here
again his common-sense and his abounding interest

him to modify the popJames does probably look for a coming of Jesus in the clouds, but more clearly sees a violent he is very sure that is revolution coming on earth coming, and shows his sagacity in taking the commonin the social state of Israel led

ular idea.

;

he proclaims the judge at the door, rather than as coming in the sky he waxes vehement in his denunciations of the careless levity and corruption of They are preparing revolution. This is the the rich.
sense view
;

;

sort of prophet

who might have

cried to the landed

gentry of France in the middle of the last century,

Weep and howl for the miseries which are surely coming upon you." It is the social maladjustment, rather than the coming angels, which will cause the fiery and terrible days and they are not far away. This man speaks more in the tone of the ancient pro44
;

He sees a threatened ruin. Neither fear nor favor restrains him from utterance
phets than does Paul.
of the truth as he sees
it, a most brave and faithful man, scorning all such notions as are conveyed by the modern saying that if one has to choose, Christianity is not a life but a dogma. To him the whole matter is one of vital meaning; that is, a matter of life and

death.

The descendants

of

Abraham

are destroying them-

308
selves
evil

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
and
their heritage

by

their

bad

living.

It is

conduct which makes for death. Not Adam and his sin, but falsity, injustice, respect of persons, and all
the rest of
it,

bring ruin.

It is possible that

no

phi-

losopher or political economist has ever put the case

more
the

elust.

strongly, tersely, and intelligibly than did James " Such and such a course, in our social life,

leads to the pit of social destruction.

A nation,

be

it

Abraham's nation or another, cannot stand if it goes not clear of these social wrongs." That is his message. Yet he does not counsel to take up arms. " Do not the rich oppress you?" he cries to the people. We should look for him, then, to advise them to strike down the oppressor, to break the strong arm of tyranny, but he does not. He does not say to them that they will do well to rouse themselves, and combine to resist the rich, and destroy their property, and sweep them from the earth. On the contrary, he tells them that if they will obey the royal law, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," they will do well. He would free them from the baleful influences of oppression, the most baleful of which is to tempt the poor to be the He would teach tools and sycophants of the rich. them not to respect persons but to revenge themselves upon their oppressors is foreign to his mind. He is not a maker of revolution he discerns the things which do make it, points them out, and warns as best
; ;

he

may
One

against them.
is

slavery,

reminded here of the attitude of Paul toward which at that time was nearly at its worst in
empire.
fidelity
;

the
of

Roman

He
in.

man, with

and

proclaimed the brotherhood all that is involved in that

condition he believed

Yet he did not counsel

in-

surrection of the slaves.

He

said, " Slaves,

obey your

SOCIOLOGICAL RELIGION OF JAMES.
not with eye service, as

309

men pleasers, but These men, James and Paul, are not men of violence and passion they see They stand by the that wrong brings retribution. Both are reformers, but peaceable methods of Jesus. they do not expect to reform murder by murder, nor They will reform evil by means of theft by theft. " Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil good.
with singleness of heart."
;

with good," says Paul.

Now for the most part reformers are subject to that kind of limitation which shuts them up to one object. Having found one great evil in the world, they are disposed to think that it is the one curse of humanity and that if it is abolished, all will be well. The
;

temperance reformer refers almost all the evils to intemperance. \ To reform that out of existence will clear the state of the one affliction which degrades it in every department. " Wipe slavery from the country and we shall be a most happy people," was the feeling of the anti-slavery reformer. We have wiped out

and still are not a supremely happy people.There is something yet to be done slavery was but one form of evil. The oppression of the rich over the poor in ancient and modern times has been but one of many causes of public unhappiness and discontent. To change these conditions without changing from other evils which distress us is to fail of accomplishing enough. Wherefore James the Just, clearly seeing the line of cleavage running through the entire Hebrew community, with accompanying respect of persons, and other mischiefs, could also see that there were evils of a radical sort, for which all men were responsible and if they were not put down, the social life would prove a dismal failure. If there should
slavery,
;
;

310

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.

ever come a time when there would be no rich and no poor, but when abundance would smile upon every corner of the world, and if the pest of the unbridled tongue remained, we should still suffer from an intricate and all-pervading evil, which would set the world afire, as with the flame of hell. One can imagine how the soul of this just man was vexed immeasurably by the endless clatter and jargon of splenetic, peevish, slanderous tongues, a rain of bitterness, always

deluging society.

Here

is

no theory, and no attempt to account for a
:

Hebrew society everywhere was made all but unendurable by the poison of envenomed tongues. Had we a land flowing with milk and honey, with abundant springs pouring out of our mountains, and watering all the pastures had we fruit growing in tropical luxuriance, and every man sitting under his own vine and fig-tree, a pleasing prospect on every hand of us, and labor reduced to a mere pleasant exercise had we Paradise expanded to all portions of the habcondition, but a vivid exposure of the condition
;

itable globe,

— with
\

the

human tongue

let loose to

perform

its

favorite work, our Paradise

would be a

miserable failure.

A

wilderness with some govern-

ment of the tongue in it would be preferable. We imagine our fellow-men of the older countries to be groaning under the weight of czars, sultans, kaisers, and all the like ; to be spied upon at every moment by intrusive police to be liable at a moment's notice, or without notice, to deportation from their homes to
;

the wastes of Siberia
at hopeless

;

to be shut

work

in the mines.
all

speakable

;

but to burn

despotic rulers, and to set

up in prison, or set Such evils are unthrones from under all up some other form of

SOCIOLOGICAL RELIGION OF JAMES.

311

government, or no-go vernraent, gives us no effective Every man and every woclearance of our evils.

man, able

to talk,

the lives of their fellow

and therefore to sweeten or embitter men and women, possesses the

power

to contribute to the continued reign of wretch-

edness.

Thus the reformation contemplated by James the
Just
is

prevalent,

one which purifies society of an evil everywhere and which is not imposed by one class upon

His religion is fundamentally practical, shunning metaphysics, and in a remarkable degree social. He does not denounce vague judgments against vague iniquities, and he does not have to ask only the wise to listen to him. The iniquity he chiefly speaks of is one from which all suffer, and in the propagation of which almost all are implicated and no one can possibly fail to understand what he is talking about. Let every person, therefore, give heed to do his peranother.
;

sonal part, putting the bridle

upon

his

own

tongue,

and

so reduce the evil of the world.
it

Nevertheless,

is

evident that the conduct and

teaching of Jesus had produced a strong feeling in the
early church respecting wealth.
to impossible for a rich

Jesus had been underit was next have part in his king-

stood to bless the poor, and to declare that

man

to

lieves the poor to be specially favored of

and beGod. Apart from the bitterness, he seems to have had the same feeling about the rich of his time that the modern
dom.
the Just shares this impression,
social reformer has

James

about the millionaires.

It is for

that reason he lays so
revolution.
It is

much

stress

upon the coming

unquestionable that wealth gained

by the withholding of proper wages, by chicanery, or by cunning, is at all times a menace to

by

injustice,

312

CREATION OF THE BIBLE.
society

any

which permits it. Great wealth, such as up in enormous bulks in modern times, is at best a deplorable fact one cannot intelligently look upon it without anxiety/)

we

see piling itself

;

The

feeling of the early Christians

is

expressed in

the Shepherd of Hermas, 1 a book which Irenaeus and
others deemed worthy a place in the sacred canon, and which was publicly read in many or most of the

churches at one period.
book, and

This

is

a very ecclesiastical
to the develop-

may have

contributed

much

papacy afterward, but otherwise is of considerable merit. The writer has visions, and in one of them beholds six angels building a tower upon the These angels are assisted by a host of others, water. who bring them stones for the tower, and the stones which are thus employed are found to be exactly square, and to fit each other to a nicety. Some stones white, are cast far away, and it is noted that others round stones are left near the base of the tower. The writer is told that these round stones represent the rich, and that they cannot be built into the tower, which is the church, until their riches are taken away. Their impoverishment alone will make them also
of the

ment

square stones,

fit

for the sacred edifice.

Aside, however, from the prevalent feeling of the

church concerning wealth, this
Epistle of
i

is

evident

:

that the

James the Just
:

is

in

no wise a theological

Zahn remarks

",As respects [the Shepherd of Hermas], the conservative It enjoyed alike in the West and the East all
'

the rights of a Biblical book.

... As

respects circulation, ac-

knowledgment, and

influence, the

Shepherd surpassed, at the

close of the second century and beginning of the third, more than one document which to-day belongs to the New TestaProfessor J. H. Thayer, The Change of Attitude ment.'"

towards the Bible.

SOCIOLOGICAL RELIGION OF JAMES.
work.

313

His religion

— the

religion he seeks to teach

is social

— as

in its reference.

concerning the sin of

However mistaken in theory Adam, or the passing of

death upon all, and the position of Jesus in the rank of being any one may be, if his religion has the

social reference,

that

is

to

God.

Perhaps there

pure religion and pleasing is nothing better for our

time, rife with just criticism
ligion

upon the Christian

re-

do without religion in the reformation of the world, than the letter of James the Just for in it he tells us the thing we most need to know, and that is that the religion which is not sociological is vain and that all effort toward the uplift of our race, done in the spirit of charity, is
effort to
; ;

and making honest

religious,

— and

it

is

divinely religious.

fa